Artix 3.0, released in March, is such a massive and major revision of the product that Artix customers who make the upgrade may feel as if they are moving to a completely different product. However, although these users will likely encounter retraining issues and problems with previous deployments, eWEEK Labs believes most will find the upgrade worth the effort, and companies beginning to examine SOAs should consider Artix 3.0.Artix 3.0 has an overhauled design and development interface and wider support for application platforms, including Sun Microsystems Inc.s J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) and Microsoft Corp.s .Net. Artix runs on Linux, Unix and Windows platforms, and a typical installation is priced starting at $10,000 per CPU.Artix users starting the main Designer interface may be surprised by what they see, although this kind of interface is becoming more common in SOA and Web services authoring: As with similar products, Artix Designer is now based on the popular Eclipse development environment. We found the new Designer interface to be very intuitive yet capable, making it surprisingly easy to create integration projects; create WSDL (Web Services Description Language) files; and define connection methodologies, protocols and transports. Artix Designer makes heavy use of FastTrack Wizards for most tasks. But unlike the wizards in most standard desktop user applications, Designers wizards are very advanced and never limited our options in defining Web services or applications. Designer includes very good code generators that enabled us to automatically create starter C++ and Java code from our WSDL files. Version 3.0 of Artix also features greatly enhanced support for Java-based applications. A new J2EE Connector feature made it possible for us to expose our Web applications as Web services or connect the applications to Web services. Deploying the Artix connector to our application server was a simple task that any mildly experienced administrator should be able to handle. Out of the box, Artix 3.0 currently works only with JBoss Inc.s JBoss, BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic and IBMs WebSphere. Artix 3.0 addresses the major scalability and reliability issues of the previous releases. Version 3.0 runs as a container instead of a service, and it is now possible to run clusters of Artix deployments. We also appreciated that when an Artix service is shut down, it will now finish outstanding processes rather than interrupt them and leave them uncompleted. A key part of any ESB architecture is what transport mechanisms it supports, and, for Artix, most of the usual suspects are supported. These include standard HTTP, IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol), SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and JMS (Java Message Service), as well as the following messaging systems: BEAs Tuxedo, TIBCO Software Inc.s Rendezvous and IBMs WebSphere MQ. Click here to read Labs review of Sonic Softwares Sonic Workbench 6.1. Artix 3.0 includes a wide variety of updates to the products already-good Web services standards support. These include support for SwA (SOAP with Attachments) and better integrated UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) support. Next page: Questions to ask.