Integrating Your Web Server, App Server, and Markup Language -- Without the Pain

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Aug 6, 2003

WebBase: Integrated application server, Web server, and markup language WebBase by ExperTelligence seeks to take some of the sting out of building dynamic Web sites driven by standard ODBC data sources. It provides an integrated application server, Web server, and its own markup language in a well-documented and easy-to-use format.

It's no mystery that connecting a Web front end to a database back end can be a chore.

WebBase by ExperTelligence is meant to take some of the sting out of building dynamic Web sites driven by standard ODBC data sources. It provides an integrated application server, Web server, and its own markup language. Additional integration is possible down the road with the OmniBase and Acrobat friendly ExperForms, a separate product also sold by ExperTelligence.

The key attraction of WebBase is the WebBase Markup Language (WBML), which provides a programming and scripting interface to the WebBase application/Web server. WBML can be embedded in standard HTML. The syntax is fairly simple to understand (at least, judging from the numerous online examples the server provides), and allows for if-else conditional logic and variables.

We were also pleased to find simple, easy-to-understand syntax for protecting pages from unauthorized users both by simple login and matching IPs, making it easier, for example, to limit a local workflow application to a given net block. WBML allows for direct SQL queries to ODBC sources.

In addition to providing its own scripting language, WebBase allows for interaction with JavaScript or Java applets, which can be embedded in HTML or WebBase's own .wtf files, to which it can pass variables from its assorted data sources. This potentially enables more complex user interaction with a WebBase-driven site than WBML's own considerable abilities.

WebBase is well documented and comes with a "WebWizard" that handles much of the hand-holding needed to learn the basics of what is an admittedly complex product. It comes with several sample databases and associated WebBase-driven front ends to examine. There's also a page that offers access to local ODBC sources with the click of button. We were able, for example, to connect to a remote MySQL server running on a Linux system in no time using the MyODBC driver from MySQL AB and the WebWizard's simple interface.

In addition, where the WebWizard and online documentation come up short, there's a thorough PDF explaining the wizard, as well as a substantial 336-page manual.

In addition to WebBase, ExperTelligence offers a pair of add-ons: E-Xpress, which ties in e-mail functionality with WebBase's database connectivity; and ExperLink, online forum software that takes advantage of WebBase's broader functionality.

In the end, the question of WebBase's usefulness boils down to how conversant a given organization's developers already are with other database friendly scripting languages. Although WebBase claims better performance than CGI-based solutions, that may not be the case with PHP, for example.

On the other hand, WebBase offers an underlying sense of simplicity and ease missing from other solutions. And the upside is that ExperTelligence is willing to let prospective customers try the product out for free with a licensed demonstration.

Pros: Simple to install; Well documented; Powerful scripting language; Easy connectivity to ODBC data sources; No additional licensing expenses past the initial $995 outlay
Cons: Windows XP support still missing; Not necessarily a good bet in organizations with extensive PHP talent already on hand

Reviewed by: Michael Hall
Original Review Date: 8/6/2003
Original Review Version: 4.5

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