Corel jumps on XML, .Net for enterprise push

The Web services bandwagon Wednesday made a stop at software maker Corel Corp., as the company announced plans to offer a line of enterprise software tools and services for creating “smart” content that can be tied to back-end servers and modified over the Internet.

The Ottawa-based company unveiled a new initiative called Deepwhite, an umbrella name for a line of content creation software products, as well as enterprise services, that the company plans to begin rolling out later this year.

Based on industry-standard technologies such as XML (Extensible Markup Language) and Web services technology developed by Corel investor Microsoft Corp., the company said it would allow customers to design graphics and text documents that can be published for a variety of media and viewed on a variety of computing devices.

“Our intention is to take XML technologies and give customers the ability to create content and not worry about how to format it for different devices,” Derek Burney, Corel’s chief executive officer, said in a phone interview.

Burney announced Deepwhite during a keynote presentation at the Seybold Seminar being held this week in New York.

Deepwhite is the third in a series of business divisions Corel has formed as part of its ongoing restructuring effort, which has included the closure of the division that developed Corel’s Linux desktop operating system. The company now caters to home and small-business users with products such as CorelDraw and WordPerfect. It recently unveiled its Procreate line of software to compete in the market for professional design software currently dominated by companies such as Adobe Systems Inc.

Its enterprise efforts will be based on a framework that will allow customers to create applications and documents in which text and graphics on a document are tied to data accessed via the Internet. Those documents could then display data that is current and personalized. For example, a document that includes a stock price could display the latest price of that stock, or a graph of its daily performance, whenever the document is opened.

“Customers could create a piece of text in Word Perfect or a graphic in CorelDraw, and you can put the business logic and rules behind it,” Burney said.

The company will release a set of XML-based content creation tools that enable software vendors and corporate IT departments to build custom enterprise applications with graphics and other design elements that access data on the fly.

One example of an application a user could build with the new tools would be one that displays the layout of a restaurant online. Users viewing the page could make dinner reservations by clicking on a specific table in the layout, and the reservation would automatically be stored in the restaurant’s server.

Additionally, the tools would allow that Web application to adjust itself automatically depending on what kind of device it is being displayed on, such as a PC or a handheld computer, the company said.

Corel plans to offer individual versions of the content authoring tools geared toward specific markets, such as catalog retailers or financial institutions.

In addition to offering new content authoring tools, the company plans to roll out a professional services team and an enterprise sales force focused on the Deepwhite initiative, Burney said. Corel will fill those teams with employees brought on as part of Corel’s recent acquisitions of Micrografx Inc. and SoftQuad Software Ltd.

Also on the company’s plate is an effort to tie its content authoring tools to Microsoft’s emerging .Net initiative, allowing users to build graphics-rich applications that can run .Net Web services. Microsoft invested US$135 million in Corel in October 2000, and under terms of that deal, Corel agreed to upgrade its software to include support for .Net.

Corel, in Ottawa, is at