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General-purpose Water Dissolves XML Complexity : Page 3

Despite all its promise for free data exchange among disparate applications, Web application developers still contend with XML's shortcomings. Startup Clear Methods claims to have developed a powerful yet simple solution: XML as a general-purpose programming language called Water.


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Early Adopter: Come on in, the Water's Fine
Ben Koo, a PhD candidate at MIT who is conducting research to model complex IT systems, has been involved with Water for two years. He initially was intrigued by the ability to apply the language across all tiers. As a former system architect of large-scale IT systems at huge corporations such as AT&T, he appreciated the simplification Water could offer as a cross-platform language. From his current work, he has also gained an appreciation for Water's modeling capabilities.

"Water as a programming environment has modeling because of its Lisp underpinning," he explained. As a language and a modeling tool, it can represent and store XML—syntax just about everyone knows—and execute the code, said Koo. He compared this functionality with other tools he's used. "Traditional modeling tools, such as UML, are domain-specific. They become very constraining," stated Koo, adding that UML doesn't execute code. "CORBA's interface definition language is too convoluted," he added, while Water has a small runtime engine and borrows XML's well-known structure and definitions.

" Water as a programming environment has modeling because of its Lisp underpinning."
The feature Koo most values in Water, however, is its simplification of object-oriented development. Koo explained, "Over-simply put, object-oriented development is about namespace management." He understands the benefits of "using object-orientated development as a concept" but admits that "libraries take a long time to master." Water offers what he refers to as "namespace management on top of Lisp management," or XML as a method for management and Lisp as the runtime engine to execute it.



The only improvement Koo said he would like to see in future releases is in Steam's user interface. He believes Clear Methods would do well to "improve the look and feel of the programming environment, and add more function. It needs some kind of graphical interface; the artwork needs work." Specifically, Koo said that although it's already functional, Steam needs a file management extension.

Just Add Water—A Sip at a Time
By adding programmability to XML, Clear Methods offers a general-purpose language that can replace all the special-purpose languages developers are using to accommodate Web-based applications. At the same time, it has the flexibility for implementation into any tier and task level. This allows for incremental adoption, which Clear Methods has dubbed its "sip of water" strategy.



Glen Kunene is a Senior Editor for DevX. Reach him by e-mail .
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