Curl Adds Muscle to the Web
Surge suite makes Internet executable from client
May 1, 2001 —
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The key to a rich, robust Internet experience, according to the engineers at Curl Corp., is compiled code, not interpreted code. Curl has released Surge 1.0, a software runtime environment that it says provides users with rich graphics, faster rapid response times and a reduction in the size of content to accelerate downloads.
Curl content is delivered over the Internet in source-code form, said Bob Batty, Curl's vice president of sales and marketing, much like HTML. The difference is that where Flash or Java is compiled to some intermediate stage, Curl is compiled at a client-side plug-in, creating in effect an "executable Internet"-a term coined by Forrester Research analyst George Colony and brought to fruition by Curl, Batty explained.
For developers, Batty said that Curl is not only a scripting environment, but a full object-oriented programming environment, with the Surge runtime and Surge Lab IDE based on the Curl Content Language, which unites scripting, markup and graphics into one environment. "To use Curl in an object-oriented sense, you need to be an accomplished C++ or Java programmer," he said. "But if you're an HTML programmer, you can do as much with Curl as you're doing now."
Underpinning the Web experience, Batty said, is industrywide adoption of standards such as SOAP, XML and UDDI-but even there, compliance with those standards isn't perfect and that can create difficulties. For example, Microsoft's SOAP, he claimed, is somewhat different from Apache's SOAP. "The success of Web services demands a very clean public API," Batty said, "so different objects from different vendors can talk. If not, it's a waste of time and we're back to EDI. But there's a tremendous amount of momentum for the requirement of interoperability." Implementations of current Web standards can be created in the Curl environment now, he said.
The Curl project began in 1995 at MIT to identify a software substrate to the hardware substrate known as the Internet, Batty said. The project allowed researchers to assume the Web did not exist and to throw out existing notions of how things work. In 1998, when the decision was made to embrace and extend existing technology, Curl was spun out of MIT into a private corporation, bringing with it Dr. Michael Dertouzos, the director of the MIT lab for computer science; Dr. Steven Ward, who with Dertouzos was behind the original Curl project; and Timothy Berners-Lee, who essentially invented the Web and is the director of the W3C.