Kapow Releases On-Demand, Customizable Web Data Services
Best known for content management system migration technologies, Kapow Technologies (news, site) also does web data services and feeds. In a recently announced partnership with StrikeIron, the vendor released Kapow Web Data Services v7.0, focusing on web data access for small and medium sized businesses.

Stefan Andreasen, Kapow CTO and founder, gave us a little tour around the new offering. Let's have a look.

The Kapow Tech Product Suite

The company's offering is a combination of 4 different modules:

  1. Web and Business Intelligence (BI)
  2. Portal generation (e.g., for IBM Websphere or Oracle)
  3. SOA/WOA enablement
  4. Content management system migrations

The SOA/WOA enablement part is the one that is relevant to this particular announcement. With this technology they take web-based applications housed inside the firewall and turn them into RSS feed, REST or web services, but leave the data at the source, according to Andreasen.

One of the examples of using Kapow Web Data Services would be to extract stock prices and generate a report using your customized data fields, eliminating the manual process of cutting/pasting data from a web browser.

Web Data for Everyone

The Kapow partnership with StrikeIron, a SaaS provider of data on demand as REST or SOAP service calls, introduces an on-demand or SaaS service, while taking a different approach to classical data integration methods, said Andreasen. Note that subscription, billing, account support and user handling is taken care of by StrikeIron. Kapow acts as middleware.

The model here is three-fold:

  1. Access
  2. Enrich
  3. Serve

That, plus the concept of robots, which are automated scripts that you “teach” how to interact with a website. Robots then execute a scripted behavior. One of the benefits is auto access to any data you see in the web browser as RSS feeds or REST services, even if that data is behind personal logins.

The robots you write can, for example, access your personal banking accounts (if you supply login information) and generate various reports based on the data and rules you put around it. Creating a robot is rather simple and looks like a flowchart in RoboMaker, a visual point-and-click desktop tool:

kapow flowchart.png

Kapow Tech's RoboMaker Desktop Application

You can do various things like branching, cut/paste as a new branch, undo, etc.; while utilizing a library of actions for looping, form submitting, set checkbox, .*dd tags for robust semantic information extraction -- with a lot of JavaScript and cookie handling happening behind the scenes.

kapow library.png

RoboMaker's Libary of Actions

The robot is then published to a Kapow Tech server and can later be invoked to provide RSS data feeds or to respond to a REST service request. The output can be generated in a number formats, including XML, CSV and Microsoft Excel.

Why Kapow Tech's Data Services?

Web data access capabilities is something that many are looking for, but not many are able to get. Kapow wants to empower SMBs with the tools they need, yet at a reasonable price. Pricing is subscription-based and starts at US$ 84 per month.

Their Web Data Services offering can be quite useful in many scenarios, including the collection of real-time web intelligence and market data.

In the travel industry, the search and planning site GoWaza is one of the examples of how the service can be used. GoWaza collects data and makes it available to customers, who research travel providers to get the best deals.