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Novell exteNds to Version 5 with ‘ease’

Jan 27, 20044 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Novell bring out the boys to promote exteNd Version 5

Rod Anderson is a PR tyro at Novell. I do believe that as the departmental rookie it’s his job to subtly get back at me whenever I say something that’s the least bit critical about the company (such as the newsletter in which I ask whether Jack Messman is out to resurrect Frankenberg’s monster – see link below).

Rod does this by enticing me to face-to-face meetings with Novell execs, usually early morning “breakfast meetings.” Having to shower, dress and drive before breakfast does usually put me in a bad mood. But I often take it out on whatever bright and shiny marketing maven Rod is serving up. Recently that was Frank Auger, Novell vice president of product management, who was ably assisted by Ashish Larivee, director of product marketing, Nsure and exteNd. Both execs are relatively fresh from Novell’s acquisition of SilverStream.

A recent reorg put Auger & Larivee in both the exteNd and the Nsure divisions (and who knows how long those brand names will last), but when I met with them they were on the road to promote the recent release of Version 5 of the exteNd product. ExteNd is the Web-server-based application server that Novell acquired (along with Auger & Larivee) in the SilverStream buy out.

To entice me to the meeting, Anderson also brought along Loren Russon (affectionately known as “the beet digger” to readers of my Identity Management newsletter – Loren, who has been to breakfast meetings with me before, knew enough to sip his juice, keep his head down and only respond with single syllable answers when absolutely required to do so. Plus points, in my book.

Auger & Larivee, as I mentioned, wanted to talk about the new version of exteNd. The salient points are that it’s a) easier to use; b) supports SuSE Linux (the Linux distribution Novell just bought); and c) is more tightly integrated with eDirectory.

I’ll get to a) in a moment, but b) was to be expected (everything Novell has will be ported to SuSE, I’d expect, and c) should be commended. All of Novell’s products should interoperate seamlessly. Maybe one of these days, Novell will get around to fully integrating eDirectory with GroupWise.

This “ease of use” thing though, if you aren’t careful with it can get you into trouble. It’s called “drag and drop” technology, and it’s described in the exteNd product blurb ( as: “Using innovative XForm technology, the Novell exteNd 5 Form Designer reduces the time necessary to create user interfaces for Web applications by automatically generating user interfaces from Web Service meta data. These user interfaces can then be securely accessed via a standard Internet browser.”

I think that means the interface is “point and click.” Of course, the user is assured that full NetWare and eDirectory rights and privileges are enforced, but when you’re logged in as Admin (or equivalent) there are too many things that standard policies will stop you from doing. Best to be logged in with limited rights to minimize the potential damage you can cause.

Your Web portal developers will also probably chuckle when they see the code generated by the “drag and drop” interface. They’ll tell you that it’s bloated (taking up too much disk space) and therefore slow (taking up too many CPU cycles) and you should let them write the Web services “applets” and “portlets” (this is, mini-applications and portal applications) so that they’re cleaner, tighter and more efficient. Remind them that you can create that portlet in about 15 minutes, that disk space is less than $100/gigabyte and that CPU cycles are far less than a dime a dozen. Then ask how long it would take them to create the portlet and what their hourly wage is.

Not only does exteNd 5 make creating this mini-apps for Web services quick and easy, but you also get to design them to do exactly what you want them to do and deliver the finished product in less time than you’d spend in meetings with the Web designers. That all sounds like a relatively good group of reasons to at least look at exteNd 5. Even if Rod did make me get up in the dark to learn about it. I’ll get back at him, though. I’ll find out what his nickname was in junior high – and tell the whole world. Mwha-ha-ha-ha!