IBM rolls out Web Services Toolkit for Mobile Devices

IBM last Friday unveiled its Web Services Toolkit for Mobile Devices, providing developers with tools and a Java-based runtime for building Web services applications accessible by Windows CE-based Pocket PC, Palm OS, and BlackBerry devices.

The open-source kit, which is based on the Eclipse initiative for tools integration, eventually will enable developers to include devices such as cell phones, PDAs, and pagers in Web services environments, IBM said. Web services enable small devices to access applications residing on enterprise servers, including programs such as schedules, inventory management systems, and CRM applications.

"What we're providing for each of these platforms is a Java implementation using source code available in an open source way to let you receive and send Web services messages," said IBM's Bob Sutor, director of Web services strategies in Somers, N.Y. Eventually, IBM plans to add other platforms, including cell phones and pagers, as supportive platforms for the development kit, Sutor said.

In addition to its Java programming capabilities, the toolkit also features a C-based runtime and tools for Web services development in the C language on Palm and other non-Java devices. The toolkit differs from Microsoft's .Net Compact Framework in that applications can be supported for a variety of handheld devices and not just Pocket PC and Windows CE, according to IBM.

The open-source nature of the toolkit will enable IBM to leverage input from thousands of developers, said Mark Ehr, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo.

"If a bug is found [in the kit], you've literally got thousands of people that could go out and fix that bug," Ehr said.

IBM's toolkit could spur interest in the fledgling Web services market, according to Ehr.

"I think there's a lot of interest in it out in the IT community," Ehr said. "I think they're still trying to get their arms around Web services in general. While there isn't a clear killer application, if you will, this could certainly drive Web services forward."

IBM's toolkit is available now free as a plug-in on IBM's alphaworks site for emerging technologies and also will be available as a plug-in to IBM's WebSphere Studio Device Developer 5.0 development environment for wireless applications. The alphaworks program enables IBM to get feedback from developers.

In other IBM developments on Friday, the company announced it has closed on its acquisition of electronic records management software vendor Tarian Software Inc. of Ottawa. The acquisition is intended to bolster IBM's position in enterprise content management, which is a stated strategic priority for the company.

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