Firm adds XML app server to open source movement

Lutris Technologies, a little-known California consulting firm, hopes to make a name for itself by releasing a Java/ Extensible Markup Language (XML) application server to the open source community.

The company has already piqued some interest, and several thousand people have downloaded the Enhydra software from the Lutris Web site.

Whether that interest will turn into a movement, with programmers working on the development just for fun, remains to be seen. If enough folks become fans, more and more users will rely upon Lutris for consulting services, the company hopes.

Enhydra is a Java/XML application server and development framework used for building dynamic, multi-tier Internet applications.

It can dynamically process information from multiple sources, including stored XML. This helps it tie together back office and database applications, a function that is essential for posting electronic commerce Web sites.

Enhydra is written in Java and builds upon the servlet interfaces that are standard extensions to Java, according to Michael Browder, vice-president of engineering at Lutris.

Enhydra also includes an XML compiler, which compiles XML as defined by a particular Document Type Definition and then churns out a set of Java classes. Those classes can be included in a servlet or in a standard Java client program. The servlet or Java client program become objects that can be manipulated to dynamically build an Internet application.

Enhydra doesn’t store XML by breaking it down into an object database the way that Bluestone Software’s XML Server does. Rather, it dynamically creates XML for use in a Web page or e-commerce application.

Lutris maintains a Web page at Enhydra is fully open source; that is, developers can download the source code, change it, and include it in their own applications, all free of charge.

Still, all this does not a movement make.

“There are a lot of people who have seen the success of Linux and are trying to take advantage of all those developers out there,” said Dan Kusnetsky, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., who follows Linux.

He cautions, however: “They haven’t figured out that those developers have to be interested in it.”

Lutris may be on the right track. Enhydra compares favourably to other Internet application servers on price alone: IBM’s WebSphere costs US$6,000 per CPU and Netscape’s Application Server comes in at US$35,000 per CPU, according to Lutris.

And Lutris has got some credibility in the open source movement, considering the fact that David Young, who wrote The Visual Tcl Handbook, is the company’s vice-president of corporate development.

Tcl was one of the early open source programming languages and is still commonly used.