Seems like everyone these days wants to jump into cloud services and browser-based applications. IBM is no different. The company has been working on a secret project for nearly five months. Well it is no longer a secret and Big Blue has divulged some details about Blue Spruce, the company's first attempt in providing a complete browser-based application development platform.
There are two pieces to Blue Spruce — the Project Blue Spruce Co-Web Server and the Project Blue Spruce Client Toolkit. They combine to provide a development platform that enables developers to push their applications to the browser, skipping the desktop altogether.
Project Blue Spruce Co-Web Server will provide application synchronization, subscription and conference services. The Co-Web Server also includes several bits of functionality that will be useful for clients and developers:
- API for pushing data into conferences
- XMPP-MUC supported conference rooms
- Moderation controls for client and service access
- Conference lookup for administrators
- XMPP protocol service message adaptation
Project Blue Spruce Client Toolkit will enable existing and new browsers to interact with Blue Spruce applications with an extendable and replaceable plug-in architecture. It will also provide a collaboration API for applications while adapting application messages to and from the XMPP protocol, which is how the server and client communicate.
How Does It Work?
Blue Spruce operates by utilizing technologies based on open standards. Right now, it uses the WebKit Open Source Browser Engine for rendering Web pages. Support for Internet Explorer 6+ and Firefox is expected to come with time though. It will be interesting to see if mobile browsers will support this technology as well.
The Co-Web server runs on Linux and Mac OS X. The server will essentially direct traffic for the platform and provide information to the client. The primary focus is the ability to provide collaboration functionality to the clients.
Applying Blue Spruce Applications
There is the client and the server, now it is time to figure out what can be done with them. Well, IBM has stated that it intends on focusing its developments to finance and health industries with utilities mixed in as well. This will all result in practical and useful real-world applications that focus on enabling collaboration.
A real-life application for Blue Spruce
In the image above, let's say that those two humans are doctors and one of them is looking for a consult. They are trying to determine what is wrong with a patient. The doctors can easily annotate the picture with Madden-esque style markings to point out problem areas, communicate efficiently through video and audio, and add or remove other content. All these changes can take place in real-time.
It all looks like stuff we've been seeing from Star Trek, but haven't yet managed to produce quite yet. However, we are slowly getting there.
And there are, of course, other practical uses that can be implemented with this technology. It is simply up to the imagination of application designers and developers as to how far these technologies can be stretched. Technical barriers are quickly disappearing as broadband speeds and access increases throughout the world.
ReadWriteWeb's Richard MacManus was the first to get an exclusive look at Blue Spruce. Check out RWW's coverage for all the details about IBM and Blue Spruce. As more information becomes available, we will keep everyone posted.
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