FRAMINGHAM (07/12/2000) - As the number and kinds of Web-enabled devices increase, Web publishers are faced with the challenge of serving content to the tiny screens of cell phones, Palm Inc. and Blackberry gadgets as well as full-sized computer monitors. Enter Worldweb.net, a provider of Web content management offerings that recently started shipping software to automate this process.
Worldweb.net's Expressroom I/O is a platform for creating, managing, deploying and delivering Web content. Based on XML and Java, Expressroom I/O consists of client and server software as well as a layer of middleware. The system lets users import and check out content, track authorizations for accessing and changing content, maintain the latest versions of content, handle workflow and prepare content for delivery.
At the end of June, Worldweb.net began shipping a version of the software that supports the Wireless Markup Language (WML) for delivering content to mobile devices. Because it uses XML at its core, Expressroom I/O requires end users to tag categories of information as they create it. Designers can then build different templates for desktop, handheld and cell phone systems and pick which categories of information they want to display on each type of system. The software automatically converts the information from XML to WML for the wireless devices.
"The author can create an article that can be poured into different templates without the author doing anything," says Brian Loew, president of Worldweb.net.
"We can simultaneously deliver the same content to different templates and different devices. From the author's or editor's perspective, it just happens."
Industry analysts say Worldweb.net's XML architecture is an advantage in the shift to wireless Web access.
"If you have XML at your core, it's a much more streamlined process to get information out to wireless devices," says Leonor Ciarlone, a senior consultant with the Dynamic Content Software Strategies group at Cap Ventures in Norwell, Mass. "It's all a question of time to market and making it easy for your customers . . . in terms of how fast they can get to WML."
The first company to test Worldweb. net's WML support was George Magazine, which created its georgemag.com Web site using Expressroom I/O. George Magazine is planning to launch a headline news service that will deliver election results to Web-enabled cell phones.
Worldweb.net's competitors include Interwoven and Vignette Software Corp., which also offer WML support. However, neither of these companies converts information directly from XML to WML like Worldweb.net.
Expressroom I/O runs on any operating system, including Windows NT, Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris and Linux. Prices typically cost about $250,000 for an enterprise version, with an additional $50,000 annual maintenance fee.
Companies can lease the software for $75,000 per year.
Expressroom I/O is used by more than 100 companies, including Kiplinger, Women's Day Magazine, Cycle World and Martindale Hubbel.