Bowstreet ties portals to Web services

Bowstreet Software Inc. on Monday introduced its Factory 5.1 framework designed to allow enterprises to leverage Web services in building customized portals.

Factory 5.1 combines Bowstreet’s Portal Automator product into the Factory 5.0 development environment, bringing Web services and automation technology to enterprise portal development, officials at Portsmouth, N.H.-based company said.

“We are seeing an impending collision between Web services and portals,” said John Caron, director of marketing at Bowstreet. Moreover, combining portal and application development products made sense because “more than 90 percent of our customers already use our [Factory] product to build some kind of portal,” he said.

In addition, Web services can be used to create highly customized Web applications that are more adaptive to changes in business process, according to Ruth Seltzer, director of engineering at Bowstreet. For example, using Factory 5.1 enterprises can create customized portal applications, or portlets, with different behaviors that adapt and vary based on a specific process or situation, Seltzer said.

“Companies want to take in-house business process and expose it through a portal. They need to be able to build customized portlets that behave differently and integrate with different services, databases, and back-end systems,” she said.

The customized portlets can then be used with Bowstreet’s portal or other portal products such as Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Portal Server or IBM WebSphere Portal.

Furthermore, with the repackaging move Bowstreet is trying to stay competitive with application server offerings from vendors such as IBM and Sun, who are “including everything along with the kitchen sink with the application server and really driving down the prices,” according to Caron.

Bowstreet’s Factory 5.1 is available with an Enterprise license, a developer license, or a new 60-day free evaluation license, officials said.

In addition, Factory 5.1 aims to speed portal development by boosting developer productivity, company officials said. Portal Automator wizards can speed development by allowing developers to model and build customized portlets without the need for hand coding. Furthermore, profile-based components called Builders can be reused across applications, reducing costs and errors, officials said.

“Now instead of taking five weeks to builds custom portals you can build an entire portal using our product in days,” Caron said.

As the intersection of Web services and portals picks up steam, the ability to add context to portals is vital to spur adoption and provide insight into business information, company officials said.

In order to get more value out of portal infrastructure investments, enterprises “need to put that information in context, put it in a way that you can customize it based on the user and other contextual information so that it has an incredible amount of relevance to that end-user,” Caron said.

With this latest release of Factory, Bowstreet has recast itself to be more focused on Java development process, particularly as it relates to enterprise portal development, according to Dana Gardner, research director at Aberdeen Group, in Boston.

“[Bowstreet] accurately senses that portals are the real end goal of a lot of development efforts coming up for the next few years,” he said.

In addition, with Factory 5.1 the company is betting that Web services will increase demand for its technology designed to track what is going on across application components that are affected by change, according to Gardner.

“I like the way they are saying ‘Web services are important, they are going to grow, and they are going to complicate things. Let’s help people manage the complications and know what all their different parts and pieces are doing – including Web services – and bring a strong value proposition to developers in the process,’ ” Gardner said.