Developers, system designers, and business analysts spend most of their time making sure:
The SoftLife Corporation offers a complete framework solution that facilitates all of the above, and, at the same time, enables rapid XML application development.
- to create the best possible user experience so that the application demands no or minimal training,
- that the application works on multiple platforms,
- that the application integrates well with other systems and business processes,
- that it is easy to maintain and understand the application logic,
- that the application is accessible over the Internet (zero or minimal client-side installation preferred),
- that open standards are used for maximum interoperability,
- that the application is scalable and secure
- Microsoft has already spent lot of time and resources making sure that the Office suite of products offer the best possible user experience – SoftTOP™ leverages that facility and allows the creation of forms and front-ends using Office tools, such as Word and Excel.
- SoftTOP™ offers a browser based interface, with Adobe PDF Reader to fill and submit the forms. This client-side architecture makes the application work on any platform.
- SoftTOP™ is built from the ground up to work natively with XML, and it
integrates with native XML database, such as NeoCore™ or
Tamino™. (A native XML database is a database server that is able to handle XML in its native
format without the need to change the data into another format prior to storing it.)
The use of XML to store the data allows the application to be easily integrated with other business processes.
- Instead of writing programs to format transaction forms, documents, or screens, with SoftTOP™ you simply build the forms,
documents, or screens in Microsoft Word™. Instead of writing program code to do calculations already defined in
Microsoft Excel™ or another spreadsheet, you simply code them in Excel™ within SoftTOP™.
The schema used to create form fields can be altered and extended anytime. All these features make applications easy to maintain and enhance.
With SoftTOP™, your
business experts develop the user interfaces using Microsoft Word™, which is universal
and easy to use. Business rules, such as edits and calculations, are maintained in XML,
using simple Windows dialogs and (where appropriate), Excel™ spreadsheet formulas.
Because they are XML, they are easy to understand, modify or copy, and fully extensible.
- Since any Web browser can be used
(Mozilla™, NetScape™, Microsoft Internet Explorer™, and so on) and no special client-side
software is required (except for the Adobe Acrobat™ Reader, which is freely available and at no cost),
applications created using SoftTOP™ allow clients from anywhere in the world running on any computer that is connected to the
Internet, including even a handheld PDA, to use the system.
SoftTOP™ data is read and written to its native XML database, such as
NeoCore™ or Tamino™, using the W3C standard XPath and XQuery syntax.
SoftTOP™ optimizes the software development and maintenance process by
leveraging existing XML industry standards to create the database schema.
The data within the SoftTOP™ system is transmitted and stored in industry-standard
XML format using the industry-standard HTTP Web protocol.
Also, The End-User Client relies only on standard
Adobe Acrobat™ technology, running on any Web-browser under any operating system.
The SoftTOP™ Server Application relies on standard
J2EE™ app server technology, deployable on Windows™, Unix, Linux, or even
mainframe operating systems such as IBM™s OS/390. This proven J2EE™ app server
technology offers the advanced scalability and security features.
The SoftTop™ architecture is comprised of three primary components: The Builder Application, The Server Application, and the End-User Client. (Note the yellow boxes in the following architecture diagram).
SoftTOP™ Builder Application is a Windows application, that is tightly integrated with the
Microsoft Office™ XP suite,
it allows business experts to easily accomplish the following tasks:
- Define the set of transactions supported by the solution, including all business rules
associated with the transaction, using simple Windows™ dialogs and Microsoft Excel™.
- Define, for each such transaction, via Microsoft Word™, the form that is filled out to
initiate the transaction and the document that is produced to complete the transaction,
including the layout and appearance of each form and document. (These forms and
documents can easily be based on the existing forms and documents that your business
currently uses to accomplish the corresponding tasks.)
- For each form or document, define the variable fields that will appear, including field-specific edits, defaults, and calculations.
In short, the Builder Application builds everything the Server Application needs to actually
run your SoftTOP™ solution! Once these forms are ready, the Builder application allows creating PDFs for these
forms, to be deployed using the Server application.
SoftTOP™ Engine is a set of Java programs (Beans, Servlets and Java Server Pages) that work together to do the following:
SoftTOP™ Server Application is a set
of server-side Java™ programs working inside a J2EE™ compliant application server, such as
IBM's WebSphere™, BEA's WebLogic™, or the open source JBoss. It performs the following functions:
- get the business rules, calculations, forms, documents, and screens that were defined in the SoftTOP™ Builder,
- interpret the business rules, performing any edits and initiating workflow associated to the transaction,
- use the SoftTOP™ Server to perform all calculations and complex edits defined in Excel™ formulas,
- present the proper forms, documents, or screens to the end-user,
- use the SoftTOP™ Gateway to store data in the XML Database as transactions are entered, approved, and completed.
In short, the SoftTOP™ Server Application runs your SoftTOP™ solution!
- Upon request from an end-user, formats a pre-populated transaction request form in
Adobe Acrobat™ PDF format in the user's Web browser.
- Accepts input from the user, processing all edits and calculations for the transaction as
defined in the Builder Application, and displays the returned PDF document showing the
results of the transaction in the user's Web-browser. (Alternatively, the original
transaction request form may be returned to the user with error messages displayed for
easy correction and re-submission.)
- Routes a completed transaction to your employees' worklists, according to the business
rules defined for the transaction in the Builder Application, and handles approvals and
rejections of the transaction.
- When a transaction receives "final approval", updates the Business Object Repository to
post the transaction, and schedules future events as defined in the Builder Application.
SoftTOP™ Gateway provides the link to native XML databases, and
enables the integration with any native XML database engine. In addition, the
Gateway stores a full history of every transaction in the XML database for later retrieval,
audit, or reversal purposes.
SoftTOP™ is ideal for creating transaction processing applications where transactions come
into the enterprise on either paper or electronic forms, and are confirmed by letters or documents
sent to the customer via paper, fax, or e-mail. The perfect application is in an industry with XML
standards for data interchange, and where universal access, simplicity of use, time to market, and
ease of modification are imperative.
SoftTOP™ makes it easy to automate individual functions or entire work processes, allowing
you to replace old systems, automate processing that has always been manual - or some of both.
With SoftTOP™, the business rules (edits, calculations, and permissions) are defined
in structured XML that is human-readable as well as machine-readable: These rules are
not buried in programming code. This makes your business rules easy to find, easy to
understand, and easy to maintain, without involving highly technical resources.
Your customers, suppliers, and employees work with
screens that look just like the actual forms and documents that have traditionally
supported your business: This creates a tremendous training advantage, reducing the
learning curve significantly.
The SoftTOP™ platform enables applications
to be built upon existing industry XML standards: This makes it easy to interface
SoftTOP™ applications both to other applications within your business and to the
external systems of suppliers, customers, or distribution channels. Because the XML
standard is the basis for the SoftTOP™ application's database model, there is no costly
data mapping between the application's database and the rest of the industry. (Although a
SoftTOP™ application solution generally starts with an industry-standard XML
database schema, because it stores its data in native XML format that database schema
can be easily extended as needed, without the need for expensive database administration
or additional programming.)
For more information, visit The SoftTOP™ product Web site at
Also, be sure to check out the online demo.