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Electronic commerce software maker Vignette Corp. Tuesday announced the addition of support for industry standard technologies that will allow its customers to build Web services to run on server software based on Java as well as on Microsoft Corp.'s .Net platform.

Vignette V6 Content Suite, the flagship product of the Austin, Texas-based company, is used by a number of large customers to author content, collect data from various locations within an organization or on the Internet and manage the way that content is displayed and delivered to end users.

"What Web services is going to allow us to do is take that same experience and move it to create new business applications," said Santi Pierini, vice president of product strategy at VignetteFor example, online banking customers who access account balances on Web sites that use Vignette software would be capable of accessing that information as a Web service from within a finance application such as Intuit Inc.'s Quicken, Pierini said. Similar applications could be used to facilitate business-to-business transactions, where companies share data between various applications from competing vendors.

Vignette customers that use the company's content management software include IBM Corp., Dell Computer Corp. and Sprint Corp., as well as customers in financial services such as Citigroup Inc.'s Citibank and JP Morgan Chase & Co.

The Vignette V6 Content Suite is available in a standard and an enterprise edition. However, Web services technology will only be available for the enterprise edition, the company said. That version of the software will include support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), WSDL (Web Services Definition Language) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol). Additionally, it will support directory services, including UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), known as the "Yellow Pages" of the Internet.

Although Vignette has based its Web services push on standard technologies, much of the way the company is implementing those standards is based on proprietary methods, the company said. It is a problem cited by numerous other software companies and one that is being addressed by the Web Services Interoperability Forum (WS-I), of which Vignette is a member.

Software vendors such as Vignette are left to devise their own implementations of Web services mainly because common methods based on Microsoft's .Net initiative and Java have yet to be released in full. Version 1.4 of J2EE (Java2 Enterprise Edition), which features support for Web services technologies, is still being adopted by server software makers such as BEA Systems Inc. and IBM.

"As those guys adopt the standards, we're going to stop using proprietary means to deliver these Web services," Pierini said.

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