Vendor's Piie lets end users drag and drop application components onto a palate to build composite Web-based applications that incorporate data from numerous sources.ANNANDALE, VA. - When the defense industry needed client interfaces that integrated data and application components from a myriad of back-end systems it turned to Digital Harbor. Now, after mastering the defense industry's need, the company is sharing its expertise with corporate users.The company's Professional Interactive Integration Environment (Piie), which it introduced last week, lets end users drag and drop application components onto a palate to build composite Web-based applications that incorporate data from numerous sources."Digital Harbor didn't grow up in the\u00a0Web services world, but that's what they are," says Mike Neuenschwander, an analyst with Burton Group. "But Web services so far have been about creating interfaces between applications, and they are trying to create interfaces for end users."But Neuenschwander says the company needs to clearly identify how it fits in between portals, and data and applications integration. "Digital Harbor's product line is like portal software but it goes a little deeper in that it can mix application functionality and data," he says.Piie uses Java and XML to deliver to just about any client device an interface that consists of windows of live components. But unlike a portal, the components are aware of each other and how they are related in the context of business processes or rules. The system combines data to create context such as overlaying the global positioning coordinates of a tank onto the map of a battlefield. Those pieces of information taken separately don't convey as much information as they do combined.Version 2.0 of Piie is made up of two components, a SmartClient and a middleware system called Business Ontology, which is used to tie together data and applications components from different systems without the need for Java or C+ coding.Digital Harbor is among a group of vendors, including Altio, Crossweave, Curl Technologies, Fourbit and Droplets, developing tools for integrating and delivering to front-end clients combinations of back-end software components such as Web services.Piie's SmartClient supports a set of services for delivering application features. The key is that users don't have to refresh a Web page each time they want new information. Instead, the window displaying that information is updated with data streamed from its source on the back end.The Business Ontology layer works like a database describing how data is related across systems in the context of defined business processes and workflows. The platform ties together existing workflow and rules engines, and message bus technology. It ships with an integrated Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition server, and runs on Unix and Windows platforms.Piie comes in an Express version that has just the SmartClient technology with pricing starts at $50,000. The Advanced version includes the Business Ontology middleware with pricing starting at $150,000.