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IBM Offers App Dev Tool For The Technically Challenged

The tool is designed to let non-technical business people develop their own corporate Web applications with little or no programming knowledge.
If IBM has its way, professional application developers will become as lonely as the Maytag repairman.

The company on Thursday unveiled an online tool designed to let non-technical business people develop their own corporate Web applications with little or no programming knowledge.

IBM says general business users will be able to use its Development Engagement Service to create Web-based forms for a number of small business tasks, including human resource management, financial planning, and sales and marketing.

The tool "requires no elaborate instructions, cumbersome download, or installation of any new software, enabling users to focus on the problem at hand," the company boasted. For the most part, users can successfully create applications with little more than the skills needed for basic drag and drop functions, IBM said.

A series of wizards guide users through tasks like specifying the application's name, behavior, look, and feel.

Once the application is defined, the definition is submitted online to the Development Engagement Service's Java-based back end at IBM, where the application is constructed automatically. The tool uses templates to generate the application and returns to the user a URL through which the application be accessed. The service works with any standard Web browser.

IBM envisions small businesses like restaurants and hair salons using the tool to create online ordering and reservation systems.

The Development Engagement Service incorporates state-of-the-art Web development tools like Ajax and was built in IBM's labs in Haifa Israel, according to the company. It's currently available in prototype form as a hosted technology on the company's alphaWorks Services Web site.