By Don Fluckinger
Building on its line of high-performance tools for on-demand creation of PDF documents via net servers, Appligent has moved into the realm of Web services software tools.
In introducing APConductor, the first of several tools in this space to come from the company this year, Appligent gives developers a way to control other Appligent tools such as FDFMerge, AppendPro and SecurSign over the Web via Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), an XML-messaging standard.
“SOAP simplifies application integration. All you have to do is be able to create and read XML messages to work with another application. The SOAP protocol is popular in both the Microsoft .Net world and IBM/Sun Java world for building integrated applications,” said Victor Votsch, Appligent’s director of communications. “Our SOAP implementation is a bridge between the different development worlds and our software.”
The move into the Web services world is just part of the company’s overall effort in 2004 to position itself as a competitor to Adobe on the document-server side of the PDF business.
While over the years Appligent has attracted customers in the financial services, pharmaceutical and manufacturing verticals, as well as in the government markets, Adobe has moved in as a direct competitor with the release of document server platforms in recent months.
Competition isn’t always a bad thing, however. Appligent President Virginia Gavin said Adobe’s hard charge into the enterprise market validates server-side PDF for large companies who before may have considered PDF something made solely from the desktop. Adobe’s presence sometimes gets them investigating Appligent’s products when they might not have before, she said.
The Web services tools, Appligent hopes, will boost interest in its entire product line, which will be expanded later this year to include a server-side PDF creation tool.
While Adobe might have the engineering army and sales force to reel in large enterprise installations, Appligent’s Gavin said she feels her company’s software stacks up well against the competition because:
a) It’s flat-out faster and contains much — Appligent claims 90%–of the features that parallel Adobe products have;
b) It’s cheaper; and
c) Appligent offers one-on-one product support to its customers when they need it.
“We’ve got very good support,” Gavin said. “It’s one of our hallmarks. Customers know that when they come to us, they’re going to get a live person who will help them with their problem and not be told to just send an e-mail.”
Furthermore, she points out, Appligent supports many different platforms, from Mac OS to Windows to three flavors of Linux, Solaris and several others.