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ThinAirApps Finds Some Buzz at TechXNY

Given the major presence of Palm Inc. at the TechXNY show this week, it's no surprise that wireless devices dominated many of the displays, which helped attract more consumers to the Javits Convention Center this year.

But with the event's focus on enterprise issues, some of the real buzz was around products that help developers address the complexity of programming databases for wireless access.

For example, the folks at ThinAirApps, which had a small booth in the Palm Computing pavilion, found themselves in serious discussions with enterprise integration consultants throughout the show. Apparently, their corporate clients are ready to throw up their hands over how to program different application servers to feed data to different devices, network issues and security, to name a few.

ThinAirApps makes application server software that helps programmers build wireless smart-client database applications in a hurry. The New York company's latest product, Identicon, focuses on building device-side, or smart-client software capable of accessing practically any application or database behind a corporate firewall.

Bret Brase, vice president of sales and marketing with the two-year-old outfit, said the smart-client concept is gaining more interest with corporate customers who see the wireless Web browser as a pipe-clogging and wasteful tool for working with data in the field.

Brase said the product's applications execute complex queries or database stored procedures without the need for wireless network or server-side coding. The process is similar to the techniques and practices from traditional wire-line database application development.

"We don't care what network it comes in from or where the data resides," said Brase. "We've added a lot of logic to what (the developers) want to export to the devices. It gives you the data format correctly for the form factor you have. If you use a phone, the product recognizes what type of phone. If you come on (to the corporate network) on a Palm Vx with Go America, it recognizes that" and feeds it the data in the proper format.

One of the most important features with smart-client applications, is that they can hold on to the data and the transactions when there is no wireless coverage, as opposed to browser-based devices that cannot. This is one reason the company is keen on the idea of getting customers to think about building client-server architecture into their planning for wireless access behind firewalls.