Informix Corporation and eHelp Corporation announced a partnership in a joint effort to support the ALURe specification. ALURe, the Aggregation and Logging of User Requests, is an open implementation of XML that tracks and reports usage patterns in Help and customer assistance systems on Web sites. Led by eHelp, the ALURe Partner Program is designed to bring industry leaders together with a shared interest in promoting user assistance standards for the Web. The open ALURe specification defines how companies identify, track and modify trouble areas on their Web sites. By adopting this specification, companies can easily obtain valuable feedback and usability data about their site when using data mining, analysis and reporting tools. The ALURe specification and Informix Object Translator are for capturing and analyzing critical customer care information to improve customer service on the Web. Informix Object Translator, a data integration tool for mapping the relationships of XML objects to the Informix Foundation.2000 database server provides two-way transparent mapping between the ALURe XML model and the data collection model in the database. Informix Object Translator generates Java components to handle ALURe XML documents, making it easy to integrate ALURe transcripts with common business analysis tools. Any data mining and analysis tool that recognizes XML can use data gathered through ALURe. Adopting the ALURe standard allows developers to make continual Web site improvements that ALURe data point to, and alleviates the need to implement data gathering and reporting technologies into their online User Assistance Systems. www.alurexml.org, www.ehelp.com, www.informix.com
The VoiceXML Forum announced that the W3C has acknowledged the submission of Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification. At its May 10-12 meetings in Paris, the W3C’s Voice Browser Working Group agreed to adopt VoiceXML 1.0 as the basis for the development of a W3C dialog markup language. The Forum’s founding members, AT&T, IBM, Lucent Technologies, and Motorola made the W3C submission. Acknowledgement by the W3C will help to accelerate and expand the reach of the Internet through voice-enabled Web content and services. The VoiceXML Forum will host the next meeting of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group in September 2000. Since the release of VoiceXML 1.0 in March 2000, the Forum has nearly doubled its supporter membership to more than 150 companies. Based on XML, Version 1.0 of the VoiceXML specification provides a high-level programming interface to speech and telephony resources for application developers, service providers and equipment manufacturers. Standardization of VoiceXML will: simplify creation and delivery of Web-based, personalized interactive voice-response services; enable phone and voice access to integrated call center databases, information and services on Web sites, and company intranets; and help enable new voice-capable devices and appliances. More information about VoiceXML can be obtained at www.w3.org/Submission/2000/04/ or www.voicexml.org. The complete W3C Note, Voice eXtensible Markup Language (VoiceXML) version 1.0, can be obtained directly at www.w3.org/TR/2000/NOTE-voicexml-20000505/.
In response to growing demand for quality content over the Internet, Bookface, Inc., announced its development of proprietary technology to deliver valuable content online securely. The Bookface delivery solution offers content providers a secure method for publishing their content directly on the Internet, enabling them to reach the entire Internet audience while protecting the integrity of their work and gaining appropriate credit and compensation. Internet users also benefit by being able to access content directly from their browser — without installing software or buying special hardware. Prior to Bookface, utilizing the simplicity and installed base of the Internet for displaying digital content was hindered by piracy. Websites either posted warning notices to reduce copying, alteration, and unauthorized redistribution, or packaged their content into secure files for delivery. File downloads represent an extra step that reduce convenience — online delivery allows content creators to place secure content on the web, so that users will not need to interrupt their reading to download. Slow modems and firewalls may also prevent downloads and installation of files or reader software. The Bookface protected, yet direct, avenue for delivering content also has the advantages of a centralized delivery system. Since content is served from one central location, publishers can easily control or limit access and track usage. The Bookface delivery solution will work flexibly with any business model. Content providers can charge access fees, subscriptions, per use charges, or leverage ad revenues to gain compensation from their content. Bookface technology will first be applied to their own web destination, www.Bookface.com. This website will deliver the ultimate reading experience to Internet users — actually opening books online. Regardless of whether they are logging in from a Mac, Windows, or Unix machine, Internet users will be able to read whole books via the site. Targeted towards providing a new marketing and distribution channel for the U.S. trade book market, the branded web destination will be launched in the summer of 2000. www.Bookface.com
Worldweb.net announced their third generation content management solution, Expressroom I/O, which enables content to be entered from and delivered to multiple formats and devices. Because of its XML and Java-based open architecture, Expressroom I/O expands content management beyond just managing and delivering content on the Web. It enables syndicated content, live news feeds, and legacy information to be managed and delivered to multiple sources including web pages, cell phones, and other wireless devices. Expressroom I/O provides a reliable and scalable foundation for obtaining and creating content from multiple sources. Expressroom is then able to manage the interaction and deliver the content across fixed and wireless communication channels such as those using Wireless Markup Language (WML). Expressroom I/O uses XML to provide a highly sophisticated content management solution that is targeted to both web professionals and everyday users. It is designed to create, manage, deploy and deliver web content. Non-technical contributors effectively control content input and design/layout issues by using Graphical User Interfaces that provide a collaborative environment for managing XML-described site components. Content input and design/layout issues are separated from web site administration in Expressroom I/O, empowering non-technical end-users with the ability to make real-time content changes ‘on the fly’. Expressroom site components are managed within a versioned, access-controlled, and XML-aware asset manager. It is then deployed to a page server that performs just-in-time transformation of XML-described content into any delivery format needed. By fully separating the web site development environment from the deployment environment, Expressroom I/O supports distributed content delivery for thousands of users and millions of page views. Newly supported inputs and outputs of Expressroom I/O include: WML, Kinecta Syndication Server. ScreamingMedia, QuarkXpress, and Oracle 8 and 8i databases. Expressroom I/O will be available at the end of Q2, 2000. Expressroom is sold on a monthly or annual subscription basis. www.worldweb.net
OverDrive Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced a comprehensive set of authoring tools and services to enable publishers to easily create eBook titles based on Microsoft Reader with ClearType display technology. A beta version of the initial product, ReaderWorks Standard — which enables individuals to convert content from Microsoft Word, HTML, ASCII, OEB or image files into Microsoft Reader format — is available via free download from the ReaderWorks Web site. Through its ReaderWorks family of products, OverDrive offers publishers tools and services to join the eBook revolution. Individual authors, as well as large-scale production houses and datacenters, are able to easily and economically build eBook titles and repositories for Microsoft Reader. ReaderWorks Standard is a free Microsoft Windows-based application that enables users to build and customize Microsoft Reader-enabled eBooks from Word documents and HTML, ASCII, images or Open eBook Specification files. ReaderWorks Publisher is an upgrade that prepares Microsoft Reader-compatible titles for sale and distribution by eBookstores. With ReaderWorks Publisher, eBook authors can answer a few questions about their title and create XML files that contain marketing and copyright protection data in ONIX, XrML and Microsoft Digital Rights Management architecture. ReaderWorks Software Developers Kit includes developers tools for integrating the automated production of eBooks in Microsoft Reader format. ReaderWorks SDK also permits software applications to add “save as Reader” support. ReaderWorks Professional is a suite of eBook conversion and quality control tools for volume producers of LIT files (Reader format) in a batch environment. OverDrive and its network of VARs offer publishers a range of education, training and conversion services, including turnkey systems. The ReaderWorks Standard beta version is available free of charge at www.readerworks.com. The other products in the ReaderWorks suite are expected to be commercially available within the next 90 days; pricing has not yet been announced. www.overdrive.com
Market-Touch Corporation announced the latest release of its hosted Web solution, Market-Touch version 2.5. Market-Touch Corporation integrates XML technology with its DataGem Server to fully enable personalized, 1-to-1 marketing and sales collateral creation. The latest version of its software includes simplified content management features, usability enhancements, and improved Internet performance. With the introduction of the DataGem XML Tag Language, marketing departments can now empower their sales forces with automatically generated, personalized documents that are consistent with the look and feel of any collateral they have traditionally used. When a sales representative generates a dynamic document, Market-Touch retrieves relevant information from the DataGem Server and structures and formats it according to the rules in the XML template. The result is a professionally written, corporate-standard document that conveys exactly the right message for each and every prospect. Prior to version 2.5, Market-Touch provided ten templates for dynamic documents. Now, customers can create any number of document templates. As a hosted Web application, all enhancements to Market-Touch 2.5 are free to current customers, and do not require upgrades, updates, or customer-side IT or administrative support. Using the Market-Touch SMART implementation methodology, new customers can be up and running in as few as 3 weeks. Market-Touch 2.5 includes mobile support for the Palm VII Connected Organizer and integration with leading SFA solutions. www.market-touch.com
Vignette Corporation and OnDisplay, Inc. announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement under which Vignette will issue 1.58 shares of its stock for each outstanding share of OnDisplay. The combination of Vignette’s V/5 suite and OnDisplay’s XML-based business-to-business infrastructure products will create a comprehensive offering for companies building businesses online. OnDisplay’s B2B infrastructure products enable organizations to integrate more closely with their customers, suppliers and business partners through the real-time exchange of information and transactions. OnDisplay’s XML technology allows critical business information — such as purchase orders, inventory status checks, invoices and product catalog data — to be integrated, aggregated and exchanged between multiple suppliers and distribution partners quickly and efficiently. This functionality increases a business’s online selling effectiveness and extends its trading networks to suppliers and vertical marketplaces through secure, guaranteed online connections. Together, Vignette and OnDisplay will offer eBusiness applications that power automated cross-enterprise transactions and highly personalized end-user interaction. B2B commerce requires automation of business transactions between trading partners and integration of back-office systems with Web-based commerce systems. For example, purchase orders implemented as cXML based transactions or connections to ERP systems using standard XML interfaces will increasingly be required for online marketplaces and the companies who wish to participate in them. Combining the business process automation capabilities of OnDisplay with the real-time personalization, analysis and content management capabilities of Vignette’s V/5 eBusiness platform will enable companies to tightly coordinate their suppliers and distributors to create true “collaborative” commerce. With the acquisition, Vignette will have approximately 2,000 employees, 870 customers and global operations — from the U.S. to South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In a stock-for-stock, tax-free transaction, each outstanding share of OnDisplay will be exchanged for 1.58 shares of Vignette. Based on fully diluted shares outstanding and both companies’ closing price as of Friday, May 19, this transaction represents a purchase price of approximately $1.7 billion. Vignette will account for the transaction using purchase accounting and expects to close the transaction in the third quarter, subject to approval by OnDisplay’s stockholders and other customary closing conditions. www.vignette.com, www.ondisplay.com
webMethods, Inc. announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Active Software, Inc. in an all-stock transaction. This acquisition brings together two vendors whose software solutions address the integration requirements of global companies and industry trading exchanges, both within the enterprise and across B2B trading networks. The companies expect that the transaction will close during the third quarter of 2000, pending completion of customary closing conditions and receipt of Active Software and webMethods stockholder and required government approvals. Under the terms of the agreement, Active Software’s stockholders will receive 0.527 of a share of webMethods common stock in exchange for each share of Active Software common stock. The transaction, valued at approximately $1.3 billion based upon the Friday, May 19, 2000 closing price of webMethods common stock, is expected to be accounted for as a pooling-of-interests. Approximately 13.6 million shares of webMethods stock will be exchanged for all outstanding shares of Active Software. webMethods was advised by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and Active Software was advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Thomas Weisel Partners. Until now, companies have been forced to adopt separate solutions for uniting internal business processes, and then sharing and integrating these processes with external trading partners, either directly or via B2B marketplaces and trading exchanges. Upon completion of the acquisition, Active Software’s products and operations will be combined with webMethods. Phillip Merrick will continue in his role as president, CEO and chairman of webMethods, with Jim Green, Active Software’s CEO, joining the team in the role of CTO and executive vice president, product development. Green will also join the webMethods Board of Directors. Other members of the Active Software management team will join the webMethods management team. Active Software’s Santa Clara, Calif. offices will become the West Coast headquarters of webMethods. The combined companies will have nearly 600 employees worldwide. www.webmethods.com, www.activesw.com