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In many cases, the end of the year gives you time to step back and take stock of the last 12 months. This is when many of us take a hard look at what worked and what did not, complete performance reviews, and formulate plans for the coming year. For me, it is all of those things plus a time when I u...
Silverstream eXtend™: Talking with a Web Leader
Silverstream eXtend™: Talking with a Web Leader

Web Services Journal recently caught up with Steve Benfield, chief technology officer of SilverStream Software, for a quick look at SilverStream's new Web services environment, SilverStream eXtend.

WSJ: Why do you work at SilverStream?
Benfield: I accepted the CTO role at SilverStream because I believe in our vision-simplify and accelerate the development of enterprise-class Java and Web services applications. For 17 years I've helped companies build and implement systems, and I've taught architecture to thousands of developers. I bring a real-world perspective and I think I can help IT organizations build great systems. That's why I work here.

WSJ: You've got a new product, SilverStream eXtend. What is it?
Benfield: SilverStream eXtend is the first integrated services environment that runs on top of J2EE application servers. You use SilverStream eXtend to create services from Java, XML-enable existing legacy systems, assemble services into business processes, and create complex portal, JSP, and client applications that use those services. We tie everything together with a set of intuitive and easy-to-use tools. Finally, everything is deployed to J2EE servers such as BEA WebLogic, IBM WebSphere, or our own SilverStream eXtend Application Server.

WSJ: What do you think sets SilverStream eXtend apart from other products?
Benfield: SilverStream has always been about making complex things easier for developers. Late last year we asked ourselves: What will people really want to do with Web services and how can we make it easy?

Early on we knew we had to go way beyond basic Web services. We view Web services as an enabling technology-just part of what needs to be done. Application developers really won't care about getting into the low-level mechanics of Web services-they just want to build functional applications.

We see two major branches of Web services development: building services and using services. It sounds basic but it led us to package the product in two pieces: eXtend Composer for building services, and eXtend Director for using services.

First I'll describe eXtend Composer: How do you orchestrate services? How do you build and assemble them? Another word is services syndication.

The core functionality needed to build most e-business applications already exists in current production or legacy systems. So besides the easy stuff-creating Web services out of Java code-we also make it easy to visually build Web services out of legacy systems such as EDI, CICS, 3270/5250 streams, MQ Series, SQL, and Telnet sessions. We are the only ones doing that today. We also have a WSFL-compliant business process engine and GUI for assembling services. Assembly becomes really important now because people need to develop things faster and faster and the less hard-coding the better. In addition to assembling services through XML transformations and business rules, we allow Java developers to get at every point of the process. It's the best of both worlds-automation and programmability.

Once you've built services, you've got to use them. Here's where eXtend Director comes in. Director is two things: an advanced portal and a development framework. eXtend Director includes services such as personalization, workflow, business rules, content management, security, device transcoding, and user profiling. It addresses two audiences: people that want to quickly create portals without a lot of coding and people that want to create applications using JSP, EJBs, servlets, or client code but need personalization or other services. As a developer, you can use Director in three ways: the GUI's we provide to build and manage portals and portal components, APIs and tag libraries for Java development, and Web services for building apps that don't run on the server itself. For example, you could build a Microsoft .NET application that uses our personalization engine. With SilverStream eXtend, integrated apps with Java on the server and Microsoft on the client are a real possibility. The architecture is very elegant.

Finally, SilverStream eXtend Workbench unifies all the GUIs for our product and makes deploying applications very easy. You can use the IDE of your choice with our stuff and deploy everything in one step.

WSJ: Who should look at SilverStream eXtend?
Benfield: Anyone who has to build enterprise class Java or Web services applications should look at our products. BEA or WebSphere architects should check us out because we run really well on those servers. If you want to experiment with Web services, you should download our stuff at

WSJ: When will all of this be available?
Benfield: By the time this is published we'll be in full beta. Release date is late October. eighty percent of SilverStream eXtend involves updating existing products so most of the functionality has already been battle tested.

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SOA World Magazine News Desk trawls the world of distributed computing and SOA-related developments for the latest word on technologies, standards, products, and services and brings key information to you in a timely and convenient summary form.

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