Adobe Aims for New Arena

AlterCast enables dynamic imaging, automatic updating over the Net.

Adobe Systems Inc. is the latest high-tech company to venture into the burgeoning world of Web services. The San Jose, Calif., company announced its entrance last week with a free update to its existing technology that brings dynamic imaging to Web services.

The update allows Adobe AlterCast to deliver dynamic imaging to Web services and to support the major Web services architectures and application server platforms, such as Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE (Open Net Environment), IBMs Web Services initiative and WebSphere, Microsoft Corp.s .Net, and Oracle Corp.s Oracle9iAS.

Adobe announced AlterCast at the end of January "as part of an effort to take our desktop intellectual property and put it on the server," said Gregg Brown, group product manager for Adobe AlterCast servers. The product automates the task of updating images for the Web, print and wireless devices.

The AlterCast Web services update enables developers to access AlterCasts automation capabilities over the Internet using Java, .Net or Perl APIs, Brown said.

The Seattle Times newspaper sees benefits to moving AlterCast into the Web services arena.

"I think it will allow Adobes great technology for photos and graphics processing to be integrated with high-end publishing systems for both print and Web use," said Greg Anderson, an analyst with the newspaper. "For The Seattle Times, it will allow us greater flexibility in how we use AlterCast. We are evaluating .Net technologies, and this will meld nicely into that arena."

He added that the newspaper currently uses "AlterCast for almost all of the photos that we publish online, but ... making it a Web service will allow us to increase that to 100 percent of the time."

With the AlterCast update, developers can, over the Internet, update and reformat text within images with a single command, Brown said. This kind of access is enabled by a Web service implemented by a Java servlet that accepts HTTP and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) requests.

The update "uses SOAP packets, but the user doesnt need to know anything about SOAP," Brown said. "We also support WSDL [Web Services Description Language], so it works beautifully with .Net."

"AlterCast is a tool to allow server-side manipulation of graphics and images, particularly in places where image velocity is related to profits."

Adobe said the new capability provides a single mechanism for handling AlterCast requests and makes it easier to manage the number of inbound connections.