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Informix spins new Web plan

Informix Software simplifies the creation and hosting of Web sites built on its database software.

Informix Software (IFMX) today announced a strategy to simplify the creation and hosting of Web sites built on its database software.

Informix rolled out several new products and a handful of partnerships with tool vendors under an umbrella initiative called the Informix Universal Web Architecture. The architecture includes existing database software, new development tools, middleware, and third-party support to enable businesses to create, store, and manage Web site components in a single database, said Brett Bachman, general manager of enterprise products at Informix.

What's new in the architecture--and what differentiates Informix's Web plans from that of competitors including Oracle and Microsoft--is the ability to store all Web site elements including HTML pages, Java applets, and graphics components in a single database. That could drastically simplify creation and management of complex Web sites which typically consist of multiple graphics and scripts scattered across many systems, said Bachman.

Another key point in the architecture is support for Java. Informix will now allow developers to write server-based code, such as database-stored procedure logic, in Java, in addition to its existing support for C and C++. The goal is to make Java support as complete as that available for other languages. "Java provides portability and ease of development advantages. But Java has not provided the highest performance for data access. Now you can do server-side Java programming, so you can write business logic or Data Blades [to support various data types] in Java for better performance," said Bachman.

Informix has introduced a new development tool, called JWorks, for writing Java applications. The tool lets programmers assemble Java applications by dragging and dropping prewritten components into a single application. Informix will sell the tool separately, beginning in mid-1997, and as a component in a revamped version of its New Era toolset, also set to debut next year. No pricing for the tools has been announced.

To connect all of the various Web site components, to make hooking third-party tools into the architecture easier, and to provide application state management, the company has announced Universal Web Connect middleware that sits between client applications and backend database servers. The middleware also links Informix's Universal Server and Online databases into Web servers from Microsoft and Netscape Communications.

The major feature of the middleware is to push Web site updates to Web browser-based users. The middleware uses a publish-and-subscribe system that lets users receive updates on particular subjects. For instance, users could build Web storefronts for electronic commerce applications that automatically update and refresh Web pages when new items are added to stock. No pricing has been announced for the middleware. Bachman said it will ship next month for the company's Online Dynamic Server database family, and in the first quarter of 1997 for Informix's upcoming Universal Server database.

Informix also announced partnerships with other vendors to provide tools that work with the architecture, including Wallop Software, Haht Software, Bluestone, and NetDynamics.