Seagull Expands Wireless-to-Host Capability

Following up on a successful initial release, Seagull Software (Atlanta) has released Wireless-to-Host version 2.0, offering a more comprehensive solution for connecting back-office applications to wireless devices.

“Really what we had the first time was a framework,” said Brett Roeder, director of product marketing for Seagull. “We showed you how to do it. Now we’ve really given you the tools to do it.”

Seagull’s wireless-to-host solution allows businesses to quickly make host-based information and processes accessible via Web-ready wireless devices. The product is designed to give employees in the field real-time access to core business functions. Seagull provides host connectivity for mainframes and AS/400s through its Java Host Session Connector for users of its JWalk or WinJa product lines, respectively. Jenny Beers, public relations manager for Seagull, said entering into the wireless-to-host connectivity market is a natural extension of its JWalk and WinJa Web-to-host line of products.

Seagull's Wireless-to-Host(tm) Solution helps locate and isolate enterprise application functionality for wireless deployment. With the developer, the screen identification process is automated to help you find the process and content you want for wireless deployment. Once identified, the subsets of application functionality are extracted using a process called Application Clipping(tm). An application framework is provided to help map the host fields to the WML browser layouts.

“Wireless is just the next iteration of our web-to-host and business-to-host product set,” said Beers, “Obviously host applications are here to stay, we all know that they hold an enormous amount of business information.”

According to Roeder, one of the most important enhancements in the new release is Wireless-to-Host 2.0 Developer Connector, a tool that allows companies to employ “application clipping” for wireless device access. Like “Web clipping,” a method which allows Web administrators to make only certain elements of a site, such as weather forecasts or stock quotes, available over the Web, The Developer Connector provides the ability to define the data and application components that will be used by wireless devices.

Another product enhancement is an easier-to-use development tool, which allows administrators to design a user interface using familiar third-party tools, without requiring any scripting. The new feature employs data tags to link front-end interface fields with host data. The administrator identifies which data is to be extracted, and the Wireless-to-Host server fills in data tags and monitors the transaction. The Wireless-to-Host server runs on any server that supports Java servlet APIs.

“What we found our customers saying was, ‘We don’t really have anybody that knows Java, we don’t know anybody who has anybody who knows Java. It would be really helpful if you guys could simplify this process somehow for us,’” Roeder said.

Eliminating Java scripting has helped to dramatically simplify the process of building wireless-accessible applications.

Whereas it might previously have taken someone proficient in Java three weeks and 600 lines of code to develop this functionality, the new tool in Wireless-to-Host 2.0 operates on a Visual Basic-based script and does not require a Java compiler, according to Roeder. With the new version it is only usually necessary to write about 100 lines of code.

“When we gave this to our customers who had been using the other version, they were like kids at Christmas,” Roeder said.

Roeder said Seagull sees a growing demand among companies to expand the uses of wireless-to-host connectivity. He said most companies hope to use wireless technology to enable users to not only view data, but also to perform transactions.

“When we go to these mobile devices, everybody’s used to data being pushed out, and now we’re trying to find ways for data to be pushed back,” Roeder said. “People want their information anytime, anywhere. But they don’t just want to see their information, they want to be able to act on their information.”

Wireless-to-Host 2.0 is expected to begin shipping this month. Pricing is server-based and starts at $30,000.

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