Ashford Technical Software
Engineering and Business Solutions
Through Innovative Technology

The X-Engine

A Platform for Rapidly Developing PC Web-Based Applications


What is the X-Engine?

The X-Engine is a platform for rapidly developing PC web-based application using open standard tools: HTML, XML, XSL and the SOAP protocol. The X-Engine does not use proprietary languages like Visual C++, MFC, Visual Basic, Power Builder, etc.

The X-Engine brings the advantages of web-browser technology to PC applications. Equally important, the X-Engine eliminates the common disadvantages of browser-based applications - lack of control over navigation and minimal client-side processing.

How do X-Engine applications compare with traditional Windows applications?

Development tools like Visual C++, Visual Basic, Power Builder and other similar tools do not have the ability to build the type of interesting and appealing user interfaces common to most browser-based applications. These tools create applications with the standard "gray-on-gray" user interface. The X-Engine uses common browser technology like HTML, Cascading Style Sheets and graphics to create interesting and appealing user interfaces.

Traditional Windows applications use a client / server architecture. As such, these applications are not enabled for the Internet. The X-Engine uses a client / web-server architecture. X-Engine application can be used for both Intranets and the Internet.

How do X-Engine applications compare with browser-based applications?

Browser-based applications do not provide the highly controlled environment required by most PC applications. For example, the user is able to do "random" browsing in the middle of an application. X-Engine applications provide the same control over navigation associated with traditional Windows applications.

Browser-based applications require a trip to the server for almost everything. The X-Engine can use the client platform to store data and do local processing. Web server exchanges are only necessary when server-side information is required.

X-Engine Features

Simplified application development using open standard tools: HTML, XML, XSL and the SOAP protocol. No proprietary languages required.

Internet and Intranet enabled. Client / web-server exchanges use SOAP and XML. Ability to optimize the balance between client and server-side processing. Requirement for server-side session management reduced or eliminated.

SOAP / XML server exchanges can be easily modified and also used by other applications.

Convenient partitioning of client and web-server development activities. Web server XML exchanges can be easily debugged using an HTML page.

Appealing and colorful user interfaces developed using HTML, CCS and graphics.

Ability to encrypt client / web-server exchanges for enhanced security.

Ability to upgrade client applications automatically from the server.

Tools to ease the development process. Server URL can be overridden in the Registry to target a test environment. Development procedures to allow "tweaking" the user interface layout.

The X-Engine is an ideal platform for developing Application Service Provider (ASP) applications and kiosk applications.

Full support for the Symbol Technologies CS-1504 barcode scanner. X-Engine application can use any combination of mouse, keyboard and CS-1504 scanner input.

X-Engine and Kiosk Applications

The X-Engine is an ideal platform for developing kiosk applications for both information retrieval and vending.

For kiosk applications the X-Engine uses Ashford's XML-based Interprocess Communication (X-IPC) protocol. Using X-IPC the X-Engine can communicate with (hold XML-based conversations with) other processes that monitor and control different hardware devices (e.g., bill acceptors, credit card readers, barcode scanners, etc.).

Ashford Technical Software / Wina Corporation

The X-Engine technology was developed jointly by Ashford Technical Software, Inc. and Wina Corporation.

Wina Corporation is located in Tokyo, Japan. Wina is currently using the X-Engine technology to build applications for the Japanese marketplace. Ashford Technical Software is using the X-Engine as a component in its Kiosk software architecture.


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