Apple Polishes Services Support in WebObjects

Apple Computer Inc. enhanced its support for Web services with the announcement last week of WebObjects 5.2, the company's Web services software development platform.

Apple Computer Inc. enhanced its support for Web services with the announcement last week of WebObjects 5.2, the companys Web services software development platform.

Bob Fraser, Apples product manager for WebObjects, described WebObjects as a suite of tools and frameworks for building Web services and Java server applications. Fraser said WebObjects 5.2 enables developers to create prototypes in minutes without writing any code—using a drag-and-drop scheme.

WebObjects 5.2 also enables developers to build, test and deploy Web services from data assets without writing any low-level SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), XML or Web Services Description Language code.

"Weve lowered the bar for developers," said Fraser, in Cupertino, Calif.

Web services created with WebObjects 5.2 are interoperable with applications written in Java, AppleScript, Perl and .Net.

The new technology lets developers build Web services backed by databases and business logic. Fraser said developers can use the products Enterprise Object Modeler to reverse-engineer existing assets "and build a server application that exposes that asset as a standards-based Web service. Were retooling the Apple environment to work with standards," he said.

Gordon Haff, an analyst with market research company Illuminata Inc., of Nashua, N.H., said, "Historically, Apple has had many cool features and technologies that have been largely locked up within the bounds of an Apple-centric and Apple-exclusive universe. OS X began a march to standards that are important, in part, because it allows Apple to leverage open-source resources.

"WebObjects 5.2 is just the latest example of Apples drive to standards which, in this case, involves XML and SOAP-based Web services," said Haff. "It will thus reduce the isolation of Apple developers and help them to play in the broader multivendor standards world of which Apple is increasingly a part."

Meanwhile, WebObjects 5.2 enables developers to deploy Web services on standards-based Java 2 Enterprise Edition application servers such as those from IBM and BEA Systems Inc., Fraser said. Or developers can deploy to the WebObjects Java 2 Standard Edition application server that is included with the product, he said.

"The major bonus with 5.2 is Web services," Fraser said. Key features include the ability to integrate disparate applications via Web services and interoperability with different platforms.

Fraser played up the simplicity of the WebObjects tool. "In about 20 minutes with about three lines of code, I could build a desktop application that could access a MySQL or Oracle [Corp.] database and present information from that database to an end user" via Web services, he said.