IBM is working on a project, called QEDwiki, that takes a stab at a long-held industry promise: end-user programming.
Rod Smith, IBM's vice president of emerging technology, plans to talk about QEDwiki and Big Blue's growing fondness for scripting languages, a relatively lightweight approach to writing applications, at a PHP Web development conference on Wednesday.
The idea behind QEDwiki, which stands for quick and easily done wiki, is that businesspeople can create their own Web pages by dragging and dropping components onto a pallet, Smith said.
For example, a businessperson could build a "dashboard" to see how weather is affecting sales at retail outlets. By aggregating information from public Web sites, such as mapping and weather services, he or she could assemble a very useful, if simple, content-driven application, Smith said.
"These ideas of enterprise mashups are getting a lot of attention from IT shops," Smith said. "All of a sudden, we're seeing a new generation of applications come out."
Several Web technologies, such as RSS (Really Simple Syndication), XML (Extensible Markup Language), and collaborative Web sites called wikis, are increasingly being used in a business setting.
IBM, long a proponent of industrial-strength languages like Java and COBOL, is trying to capitalize on these technologies with software and services for relatively short-lived, rapidly built applications, Smith said.
QEDwiki is targeted at people who want to make Web applications without the aid of professional programmers. It uses Ajax scripting and a wiki on a server to collect and share information, such as RSS and Atom feeds.
To do more advanced work and customizations, people can use the PHP language with the QEDwiki, Smith said.
The idea of application assembly, in which businesspeople, rather than programmers, build their own applications, has been around for some time, but that vision has never been fully realized, IBM said.
The company is currently testing QEDwiki with its corporate customers to determine how affordable and valuable these "five-minute applications" and assembly tools are, Smith said.
"It's hard for me to say 'end-user programming' without cracking a smile. It's been overhyped and overpromised," he said.
Smith said that IBM will likely release the QEDwiki software on its emerging technology Alphaworks Web site sometime this year.