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Apple Web app opens doors to others

A new version of Apple Computer's WebObjects development software aims to be more compatible with emerging Web services standards.

    A new version of Apple Computer's Web application development software released on Tuesday aims to be more compatible with emerging Web services standards.

    The company's new WebObjects software is part of a broader effort at Apple to make products that are more compatible with standard computing equipment used by businesses. Although Apple's Mac OS X does not run programs designed for Microsoft's Windows operating system, Apple has been trying to make the deeper layers of its technology more compatible with the outside world.

    The biggest step toward opening up the Mac was the move to Mac OS X itself, which is based on Unix. Apple has also moved to support other standards such as Open Directory to make Macs fit better into corporate networks.

    The new version of WebObjects, which is used by companies to create various custom Web applications, supports key standards such as XML (Extensible Markup Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), while not requiring developers to write the low-level code for those protocols. Apple, for instance, uses WebObjects to power the Web-based e-mail portion of its .Mac service.

    "Our customer base is increasingly interested in how to develop applications for the server," said Brian Croll, senior director of worldwide product marketing for Apple's software unit.

    WebObjects has been a less well-known, but important, part of Apple since it picked up the technology as part of its 1997 acquisition of Next Software. Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, was Next's CEO at the time, and served as an adviser to Apple's former CEO before taking over the position.

    The software, which at one time cost $50,000, saw its price slashed to $699 in May 2000. The software now sells for as little as $99 for education customers.

    Separately, Apple has added a feature to its Mac OS X Server operating system that helps servers get back up and running quicker after a crash. The so-called journaling file system added to version 10.2.2. of Mac OS X Server keeps track of changes so that it is faster to recover after, say, a power outage. Linux, the server versions of Windows, and most variants of Unix already have such a file system.

    "This is something that our server customers were really wanting," Croll said. "It's the next step in our progression to make a much more powerful server environment."