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Index to this Overview

... The masses are online and companies everywhere are rushing to publish information and services on the Web. There are a lot of tools available that make it easy to build a traditional static website -- pages of text and images ideal for colorful brochures and catalogs. Plus several plug-in technologies have come along that enhance these pages with flashing text, bouncing graphics, and sound effects.
[curtain close]

The Intermission is Over


The Web: ACT II

Todays business operates in a fast-paced, dynamic world, where information and services change quickly. Every time a price or product changes, someone has to update the website. When a customer places an order, someone has to update an order entry system. Businesses are struggling to keep their websites and records up-to-date. Wouldn't life be a lot simpler if your website wasn't just a collection of static pages, but a dynamic application tied directly to the same services and data that run your business? You change information within your existing setup and these changes automatically appear on your website!

"The WebObjects development environment will allow webmasters to build sites faster, maintain them more easily, and extend applications across the Web. Sounds like hot stuff to me."

Anthony B. Perkins, Wired

Put your website to work
With WebObjects you can build dynamic web applications that use your existing corporate data and your existing computing power to calculate payment options, update customer accounts, run credit checks, and display the results in seconds on any web browser. Because you use your existing data and business logic, you avoid costly changes to your current operations. Use your current servers, operating systems, and programming skills. Automate sales and customer service on the Web, run corporate MIS applications on an internal Intranet, integrate and simplify your computing resources. Best of all, your web applications will be easy to maintain and scale, as your business grows.

Turbocharge your server
Until now, the Web has been powered by the browser -- a simple viewer that displays text and images formatted in HTML. Client technologies, such as Java applets, ActiveX controls, and Shockwave movies enhance the browser with animations, sounds, and other tricks. But the actual information displayed on the browser comes from a web server. Unfortunately, this information doesnt typically originate in HTML, and this is where WebObjects fills the gap.

WebObjects is a server technology that connects your corporate data and applications directly to a web server, and builds HTML pages automatically as customers make requests. You can have anything from a simple script to a robust application automating order management, securing travel arrangements, or plotting weather patterns from a satellite, and displaying the results dynamically in flashy pages on the Web. Customers receive up-to-date information, and your applications can be enhanced by client-side technologies, too.

Click the thumbnail to see a PDF image of the WebObjects architecture. But watch out, it's 2.2 megabytes! WebObjects archictecture
2.2 megabyte PDF image

Invest in proven tools used to create the Web
WebObjects is based on an object technology that NeXT Software has been developing and perfecting, not just for a year or two, but for over a decade. This technology allows building applications that can package up practically anything -- legacy data, a form people type in, a Java applet -- and send it to the Web where it can be accessed by anyone using any browser.

NeXT technology is so natural a fit for beaming rich multimedia through cyberspace that it was used at the European CERN lab to create the first web browser and web server back in 1990! While other web vendors are struggling to release beta-quality tools for building dynamic websites, more than two thirds of WebObjects functionality comes directly from finely tuned products that have been shipping commercially for nearly ten years. No other web product is as established and proven. Call it vision. Call it luck. NeXT was ready for the Web.

"At CERN in 1990, I developed the first client and server World Wide Web app using NeXT's tools in just two months. It was a combination of NeXTs object-oriented environment, neat development tools, and a powerful class library which made it all possible."

Tim Berners-Lee

Build powerful websites quickly
With WebObjects, youll develop a robust web application in a fraction of the time it takes with other development tools. You can have a working prototype up and running within weeks. After that, maintenance that used to take weeks can be done in hours or even minutes.

The key is object components you build once and then reuse in other applications. Say you build a calendar for a room scheduler application on your corporate Intranet. You can later plug that same calendar into a vacation scheduler or reservation application without having to rebuild it. Since WebObjects comes with its own library of components, much of your website is finished before you even begin building it.

Maintenance is easy because your code isn't duplicated across applications or hardwired to your legacy data. You can have interactive services handling customers on the Web plus internal applications for employees all sharing the same objects and pulling data from the same data sources. Whereas programming a simple price change typically involves days of tweaking several applications, taking them off-line to do it, now you just edit a single object. It takes five minutes and your operation doesnt skip a beat.

Use your current tools and data
WebObjects works with popular standards throughout your enterprise. Develop and deploy your web application on your choice of platforms, such as Windows NT and Sun. Access data in Oracle, Sybase, and Informix databases, legacy mainframes, and even Windows applications via OLE. Use your existing web server, and build templates using any HTML editor. Most important, count on access from any web browserNetscape, Microsoft Explorer, America Online, you name it. Focus on building your website. Leave difficult compatibility issues to WebObjects.

Program with Java
You can build web applications today using familiar scripting and programming skills. Youll be able to use JavaSofts Java programming language, Netscapes JavaScript, and Microsofts Visual Basic to build applications and to continue work you begin today. With WebObjects, Java developers can access legacy data and applications. Java wont just look alive, it will be alive.

For example, you might build a website that lets a customer select a stock from your database, that then animates a live stock feed tracking its price second-by-second, and that graphs profits in real time using an Excel spreadsheet. To do that without WebObjects, you'd have to write three separate applications and the glue to connect them; a lot of extra work that you can't reuse.

"The NeXT technology that really floats my boat is WebObjects...Forget the pain of editing individual HTML pages -- apps built with WebObjects are far easier to maintain... this is what we need for internal corporate applications -- hypertext is static, too time-consuming to maintain, and not easily open to a variety of databases and third-party objects."

Christine Comaford, PC Week

Let customers service themselves
A customer on your website wants payment options for a loan. The necessary information is spread across databases, mainframes, and Windows spreadsheets. The customer calls a service representative who is tied up for the next hour calculating 20 possibilities for a simple loan. Or, the customer goes to your website and gets dynamically generated readouts of all options based on the downpayment and loan terms they specify. They even send off their first payment. You train your people to focus on harder questions, adding value to your organization for free.

To pull this off, your website needs real-time access to your existing, changing data. To translate rows and columns from a database into friendly, meaningful web pages would normally mean writing separate code for each database, maybe even for each platform. Months of work. With WebObjects you hardly write any code at all. Instead, special adaptors plug your components into databases such as Oracle, Sybase, and Informix. With help from third parties, you can plug into legacy mainframes, too. And since WebObjects can talk to OLE objects, you can even access data in a Windows spreadsheet.

Streamline internally on an Intranet
Every business has them. Vacation requests, expense reports, conference room schedules. Employees fill them out by hand, or you train them to use applications developed for each platform in your organization. But lifes too short! The Webs simple and intuitive user interface is perfect for filling in forms. With WebObjects, even beginning webmasters can churn out interactive pages in hours that provide these services, and put them on an internal Intranet. No more filing paper, training employees, or developing across platforms.

Because WebObjects plugs into your corporate data, you can deploy corporate MIS applications on your Intranet, too. Generate sales reports and personnel queries. Do away with complicated COBOL programs. You dont even have to distribute software. Install and maintain one version of an application on a server for use across your organization.

Scale easily as you grow
As your business grows, WebObjects can easily scale to manage heavier web traffic and expand data storage. Typical web servers can only handle so many hits before they quit responding to users. But with WebObjects, components handling requests can be spread across several application servers. As you get more hits on your site, you can distribute the load across application servers without adding or reconfiguring any HTTP software. When your databases reach capacity, you can easily add a new one, touching very little code because the connections are already there. All this happens with no interruption in service!

Use popular web technologies
With WebObjects, your customers can enjoy all popular browser enhancements. They can download whizzy Java applets and ActiveX controls from your website. They can use plug-in software to access Shockwave movies, RealAudio sound clips, VRML renderings, and any other web technology that comes along. Any technology supported by standard HTTP servers works with WebObjects.

Know your web customers
Customers who revisit your site should be able to retrieve their name, address, and credit card number from your records, just as if they walked in your showroom or office. As they make selections and set preferences, your site should remember those actions.

Such state management has been difficult on the Web because the browser typically handles all the action, and the browser has no place to save such information. But with WebObjects, your components live and work on your server. They have the same ability to access and modify customer data as you do. When a response rolls in, WebObjects can unpackage and save it. When customers log in later, WebObjects can package up their account information and send it to them.

"Windows, Netscape Navigator, Netware, Notes and IBM's OSs will battle to differentiate themselves...The race to incorporate Java is only the first. I predict that Steve Jobs' WebObjects will be the next weapon to be wielded by these titans..."

Mitch Ratcliffe, PC Week

Enjoy security on and off the Web
WebObjects supports current standards that protect customer information, including S-HTTP, SSL (the standard Netscape uses), and any other security system you have on your server. WebObjects also works with your existing firewall server.

But theres more. Suppose you have employees logging into sensitive data on your Intranet. NeXT partners with Security Dynamics to provide a user authentication service that ensures outsiders cant misuse an employees access code. You supply each authorized user with an electronic access card whose numerical readout changes each minute. At any time, a program in your network and the cardholder are the only parties who can possibly know what code is displayed on the card. Plus, each code works only once. If an intruder hijacks a transmission, the code is already expired and their catch is worthless.

Join our growing list of customers
NeXT introduced the WebObjects product line in August 1995, announcing a first version release date of Q1 96. As promised, final product shipped on time, and within months, many customers signed up to build dynamic websites with WebObjects, including Dreamworks SKG, Fannie Mae, MCI, Merrill Lynch, Motorola, Reebok International, The Sharper Image, UB Networks, WeatherLabs, and more. During that same period, more than 20,000 copies of the free WebObjects product were downloaded from NeXTs website! WebObjects hit the ground running, accepted by customers large and small as the leading solution for developing dynamic, server-based applications for the Internet and Intranet.

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The Intermission Is Over

The Web: Act II


Last modified 96-11-12. Copyright 1997 NeXT Software, Inc. Proprietary Notices.

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