BEA’s wiki promises end-users code-free development joy

The wiki is expected to help solve the old problem of how to put applications together in a non-technical way

BEA’s development lab is building an “enterprise application wiki”, which it hopes will help solve the old problem of how to put applications together in a non-technical way.

Code-named “Holland”, the project uses editable websites (wikis). It will provide a library of web-application components that can be assembled on a web page, or series of pages in “drag-and-drop” style, that it hopes will be as easy to edit as a word-processing document or spreadsheet. It will also be connected to back-end data management services, says senior product marketing director Jay Simons.

Faced with ordinary but unexpected information management challenges — such as an inventory overstock that must be diagnosed and then brought under control or a sales event that must be planned collaboratively or even an analysis of a pattern of problems reported to a helpdesk — staff usually ask IT for a solution.

This often proves too costly, or will take too long to develop, says Simons. So then they resort to the tools they know: word processors, spreadsheets, ad hoc databases, email conversations and, perhaps, wikis, and muddle through as best they can.

The Holland project aims to hit the “large sweet-spot” between such cobbled-together solutions and the formidable IT world of intranets, portals and content management tools, says Simons.

He demonstrated a rough version of some of the projected system’s capabilities at a recent BEA media and analyst gathering held in Sydney earlier this month.

“[It aims at] a seamless transition between building and using applications, where every user is an application builder,” he says.

The Holland project should result in a product — almost certainly not called Holland — some time during the first quarter of next year.

A pre-release version will be demonstrated in September this year, at BEA’s TechWorld conference.

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