According to Steve Jobs, CEO of NeXT, Inc., the future of the Web lies in dynamic information and increased interactivity. NeXT’s bid to hasten that future is WebObjects, a new object-oriented toolkit for developing Web applications.
Based on the NextStep object-oriented development environment, WebObjects allows for easy programming of Web applications, as well as easy creation of plug-ins for Web browsers.
The approach, which supports development for Sun’s Java, will allow programmers to vastly expand offerings on the Web, changing it from a fairly static medium to a more interactive one.
New technologies like WebObjects will soon allow Webmasters to create programs that can more easily generate customized pages built on the fly. Such flexibility would allow merchants to more easily use the Web for marketing and commerce. WebObjects will support security standards such as SSL and S-HTML to enforce security when exchanging sensitive data such as credit card numbers.
WebObjects leverages NeXT’s other object technologies, such as Enterprise Objects for accessing databases. In demonstrations at Object World in September, Jobs showed how WebObjects can create HTML pages on the fly using information pulled from an outside database. Users visiting the Chrysler Corp. site could compare the different kinds of cars the company offers, preview their preffered model in different colors and with different options, and then work out the financing directly on the Web. The HTTP server would search for the requested information in the Chrysler database and return the appropriate data.
Using another object, the server would apply the potential customer’s financial choices, then calculate prices and financing for this custom choice. This will require very little programming, as WebObjects is based on object-oriented programming, which essentially allows programmers to create building-blocks that can be used to exhibit different behaviors, have different properties, and be reused for other occasions.
One of the great advantages of WebObjects is its portability: It will run on Windows NT, Solaris, SunOS, HP-UX, Digital’s UNIX, and NeXT’s MachOS. The WebObjects framework will use existing servers’APIs. Additionally, NeXT will include an HTTP server as part of WebObjects for added performance and better integration of objects. Pricing for WebObjects has not been set.
In the online objects race, NeXT will compete with Microsoft Corp., which plans to use its Blackbird technology to leverage OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) for Windows-based servers.