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IBM Releases Web Intermediaries Toolkit

IBM Corp. Wednesday released a free Java-based software toolkit that enables a new class of applications known as Web intermediaries to control the flow and customization of Web data.

IBM's Web Intermediary (WBI) Developer Kit for Java provides a framework for creating intermediary applications which can monitor and modify the flow of Web data between clients, servers and proxies. For example, they can produce personalized content, connect local and remote information on the Web, route Web traffic, translate protocols or translate document formats.

At its core, WBI is a programmable HTTP proxy server. IBM's Web Intermediary Developer Kit provides a programmable control point for building Web applications, a set of developer resources for building applications, and a run-time environment for deploying these applications.

In particular, it includes all the application programming interfaces (APIs) and documentation to allow developers to start writing intermediary-based applications as well as the code needed to manage functions common for many intermediaries, such as: network connections, sessions, HTTP and HTML.

To develop a WBI application, developers only need to devise the Java code required for their specific function to plug into the WBI framework. WBI also includes five example plugin programs:
  • Personal History -- Keeps a history of the user's past browsing, allows users to search this history to find previously viewed pages, creates an "automated hotlist" of the 200 pages visited most frequently, and adds shortcut links to pages based on previous browsing patterns.
  • Traffic Lights -- Assesses the current net speed to links on Web pages as they are viewed. Red, yellow or green dots added near the links indicate that the connection speed is slow, medium and fast, respectively.
  • Page Filtering -- Permits a Web browser to display only the pages of specific sites.
  • Yahoo Category Tracker -- Retains a list of all the Yahoo category pages that are visited, permitting a rapid return to those pages without remembering the initial path.
  • XML/XSL -- Transcoding intermediaries convert data from one format to another, which is useful when the file/data format coming from the Web server is not supported by the browser of, say, a personal digital assistant. This program uses the XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language) to convert XML (eXtensible Markup Language) data into HTML, which can be displayed using a Web browser.
The alphaWorks license allows developers to download the WBI technology for personal use and to create their own WBI plug-ins for performing specific tasks. Developers are encouraged to give feedback to IBM's Research team to help improve future generations of the technology. A commercial version of WBI is available for developers building Web intermediary products.

IBM's Web Intermediary (WBI) Developer Kit for Java can be downloaded from IBM's alphaWorks Web site.