Tibco Software: Clean Up With Ajax

By Brian P. Watson Print this article Print

An Ajax pioneer helps the business integration firm expand its strategy.

Tibco Software, a forerunner in business integration software, bought a pioneering application development firm in 2004. That company, General Interface, offered one of the first Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and eXtensible Markup Language, or XML) platforms for developing Web-based applications.

Former General Interface users applaud the combined company for customer service and how its products help speed up application development.

Ajax combines the interactive features of JavaScript with XML's ability to retrieve data from a Web server in small amounts instead of comprehensively, which forces the server to completely reload the site. The result is a Web-based application that functions like it's on a desktop.

Paul Rudman, an analyst/developer with the Shell Group, came across Tibco's General Interface when the oil conglomerate began putting its legacy software systems on a common platform.

Within a week of using the product, Rudman's team built a front-end interface for a system that connects energy trading platforms so traders can clear contracts. He says it was four times faster than any other framework he's tried.

He also points to General Interface's built-in ability to read and connect to Web services—interoperable software systems extended over a network—without requiring extra code. Picking the tool, he says, "was purely a case of [Tibco] displaying the technology we needed." Rudman adds that he plans to use General Interface to build new front ends for all of Shell's legacy applications.

E.&J. Gallo Winery first bought General Interface in 2004, looking to create richer Web applications for consumers and partners. Senior systems engineer Balaji Balasubramaniam and his team built a number of applications with the tool, including an auditing system for Gallo's marketers and distributors.

Balasubramaniam applauds Tibco's customer support. He turns to Tibco's online forums, where developers and users share tips and answer questions, whenever he runs into problems with General Interface. The longest he's ever waited for a solution is a full workday, he says.

"The service on General Interface is wonderful," Balasubramaniam says.

Kevin Hakman, a General Interface co-founder and now a Tibco product marketing director, says customer satisfaction was always a driving force behind the product. And it appears to have paid off all around: According to Hakman, it was early General Interface customers who rallied Tibco to acquire the firm.

He says those customers liked the technology but wanted more support than GI's six-person staff could deliver. Hakman says Tibco was attractive because of its emphasis on business integration and service-oriented architecture, the concept of tying applications together across systems.

Still, Ahmad Fahmy, a London-based senior technical analyst with Merrill Lynch, had one gripe. He says General Interface uses Common Data Format, a method of storing and accessing data sets, which slows down with large applications. Fahmy and his team ended up having to write separate code to transform the data format of a Web service into the common format so they could interoperate.

Hakman admits that using Common Data Format as a data model can cause those types of problems, but adds that General Interface has built-in tools that can transform data into other formats. —

At A Glance

Tibco Software
3303 Hillview Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 846-1000


Vivek Ranadive
Chairman & CEO

Tom Laffey EVP
Products & Technology

General Interface includes libraries and tools to build Ajax-based rich Internet applications.
Reference Checks

Balaji Balasubramaniam
Sr. Systems Engineer

Ahmad Fahmy
Sr. Technical Analyst

Sanjay Madgal
Sr. Technical/Application Architect

Paul Rudman

Alan Roter
VP, Informatics

2006FYTD* 2005FY 2004FY
Revenue $356.23M $445.91M $387.22M
Net income $41.32M $72.55M $44.92M
R&D spending $64.91M $73.14M $61.10M

This article was originally published on 2007-02-02
Associate Editor

Brian joined Baseline in March 2006. In addition to previous stints at Inter@ctive Week and The Net Economy, he's written for The News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla., as well as The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, Ireland. Brian has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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