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Start-up DreamFactory conjures up new tools

The upstart introduces its first commercial product for building graphical user interfaces based on XML and Web services standards.

Start-up DreamFactory Software on Monday introduced its first commercial product for building graphical user interfaces based on the XML and Web services standards.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based company also announced that Salesforce.com and Grand Central Communications are currently using DreamFactory software. Both companies are offering DreamFactory's tools to customize applications within their own hosted application development services.

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DreamFactory 6.0, the company's flagship product, is a browser-based tool for constructing user interface software. The software is designed to work with XML (Extensible Markup Language) documents and communicate with other computers using Web services protocols such as Simple Object Access Protocol.

The DreamFactory software aggregates data from different sources on a desktop PC and can render information in a graphics-intensive way, bypassing display limitations of Web browsers, according to the company. A desktop-oriented approach provides better application performance and saves on bandwidth costs, compared with using a portal server to deliver Web pages to desktop PCs, company executives said.

"You don't need a dedicated server for serving up" user interfaces, DreamFactory President Bill Appleton said. "You can communicate directly using XML and Web services, which is much faster, because you cut out an aggregation point" on the server.

DreamFactory is one of a handful of smaller companies that have developed software for building so-called rich clients, or graphically rich desktop software that relies on XML and Web services. Other companies include Curl, General Interface and Nexaweb Technologies.

Microsoft, too, plans to introduce software to create sophisticated client applications. With the next version of Windows, called Longhorn, the company plans to make it easy to build and run graphically rich applications that draw on the processing power of powerful desktop PCs.