By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-06-08 Print this article Print

Cordiant used "a lot of open-source technology to complete the work," Paul said, including moving from Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server database to the MySQL database, moving from Windows to Linux, using the Lucene open-source search engine and using the Apache Tomcat open-source application server.

"Open source is something we thought about and our client also required," Paul said.

"Things are so much faster in the Linux environment," Delman said. "We also have an incredibly stable environment," he added, noting that with SQL Server much replication was needed.

The founders of MySQL want to kill all patents. Click here to read more. "One of the big changes was bringing up Lucene as our search engine," Delman said. "Search has been our No. 1 goal. So [the ability of] building on a Lucene-type search engine is something I didnt have in the other world." Delman said Google is probably TMAs biggest competitor, except "nobody else has what we have. We have more focused data; we know the business, and we have relationships."

Cordiant also used J2EE as its core platform, which typically would require a heavy testing regimen, Paul said. "But because so much of the code was generated automatically, the testing was easier," he said.

In addition, the Cordiant team used IBMs Rational Unified Process as its core development methodology, Paul said. Meanwhile, based on the UML models, "all the code is generated—and the code is really optimized, fine-tuned code," he said.

Despite its success using the OMG standards, the Cordiant team had not used MDA before. Paul described the effort as a "self-learning" experience and had to evangelize the use of the MDA methodology to his team.

"The biggest challenge was to sell our development team on MDA," Paul said. "They said without coding it cant be an application. But after two or three weeks of using MDA, the [developers] are bigger evangelists than I was."

Meanwhile, the payoff of two to three weeks of initial training proved invaluable, Paul said. Key benefits to using the MDA model included fast turnaround, easier integration of open-source technology, better portal navigation, system stability and lower monthly maintenance costs, he said.

Helping tremendously in the effort, Paul said, was that Cordiant had already been supporting the TMA application for more than a year, and "we knew the requirements of the application quite well." Still, according to Paul, had it not been for MDA and UML, to deliver the same solution from scratch using traditional development methodologies would have taken considerably longer. The requirements process itself "could have taken us maybe three months," Paul said.

The new system enables TMA to be more proactive with its constituents, Delman said. "We are constantly looking at ways to integrate content and structure content ... to spoon-feed our users."

TMA pushes out news to its users and has a content team in Hyderabad, India, that batches news for release to TMAs users, Delman said. For example, TMA provides information on all laws and legislation worldwide regarding tobacco. In particular, TMA monitors the Master Settlement Agreement between U.S. states and the tobacco industry. So the team in Hyderabad "goes into every [settling] state AGs [attorney generals] Web site every day and pulls out data relating to the MSA," Delman said.

Meanwhile, Delman said he has tasked Cordiant to work on the next step for the TMA system.

"The next big thing is the implicit personalization," so that users who come to the TMA site will be able to get a personalized experience. "Thats what Cordiant is working on with me right this minute," said Delman.

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Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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