Core Technology fills the small applications gap with Ajax

The Wellington company's 'easy' web interface for SMEs is now on general release

The power of XML, and its ever more sophisticated linkage with the web, has enabled Wellington-based Core Technology to fashion an easy interface for small businesses wishing to develop web-enabled Java or .Net applications aimed at serving basic information needs.

Core Technology principal Shane Mercer believes there is a gap to be filled between Java and .Net development environments. Typically, they are too weighty for small-scale developments and tools such as Microsoft Access, which are often used to “knock up” such small applications, not very scalable, Mercer says.

Core Technology’s Aviarc environment provides a graphical interface which generates XML and an engine which uses that input to generate Java or .Net code.

A key element of the environment is a developing set of technologies known as Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript Technology and XML).

Using JavaScript, an HTML page can asynchronously make calls to the server from which it was loaded and fetch XML documents. The XML documents can then be used by the JavaScript technology to update or modify the Document Object Model (DOM) of the HTML page.

This enables functionality from familiar but more advanced GUIs, such as trees, menus and autocomplete, to be represented and manipulated in a browser without needing to refresh the page.

Pages can be built on the basis of pre-loaded themes — such as colour-schemes, button shapes and so forth — for consistency across an organisation and further reduction of development effort.

While working graphically, the developer can see and tweak the generated XML code. The code change is immediately represented in the graphics, known as “round-tripping” in the industry.

One Aviarc engine can run multiple applications, Mercer says. “You could have 20 to 30 small applications running on one server”.

Alternatively, several instances of the Aviarc engine can sit on “pizza-box” servers in a middle tier, allowing several applications access to a common database.

Aviarc has been used by a number of clients, including NZ Police and an unnamed state-owned enterprise for about a year. It is now generally available as GA1.0, with full support.

At the same time as the GA 1.0 release, Core Technologies opened an office in Melbourne. This was the result of the fortuitous return home of an Australian-resident staff member.

The company is also moving into much larger premises in the historic former Odlins building on Wellington’s waterfront.

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