Iron Chef of Web Services Challenge

Iron Chef of Web Services Challenge – Competition fierce at Iron Chefs of Web Services Challenge

By Renee Diiulio, The Daily

Web Services Competition

WOW Iron Chef Of Web Services “This contest demonstrates the power of Web Services and how they can be quickly and easily integrated to enhance user experience. I would like to thank all of the participants for their contribution for the technology to make this happen”. — Bill Cullifer, WOW Executive Director

“Watakusi no kioku ga tashika naraba…,” says Kaga Takeshi at the beginning of every Iron Chef TV show. Well, if memory serves me correctly, the COMDEX show floor is not typically the site of tense competition – well, at least not in the open. But on Tuesday, the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW) brought five teams together to compete in the “Iron Chefs of Web Services Challenge.”

The interactive development session, which combined the spectacle of performance art with the entertainment value of a live, high-pressure sporting event, culminated with an awards ceremony where the teams presented their solutions and the winners were announced. The top three finalists were: Team Collaxa in third place, Team webMethods in second and Team Microsoft in first.
Kyoo no tema wa (Today’s theme is this)

The theme of the event was Web services, giving participants an opportunity to showcase the tools and techniques their companies have developed for creating these applications. Attendees could watch the teams’ progress throughout the day as they developed a complete application that was both a client of existing Web services and a publisher of a new Web services API (application protocol interface) using WSDL (Web services description language). Contestants had few restrictions: HTML or dynamic HTML thin clients could be constructed, fat or heavy clients could be utilized and desktop applications could be used as the presentation layer.

The two-person teams were given identical workstations with Internet access and two computers configured with Windows 2000 and Office 2000. Any software used was required to be generally available to the audience, off-the-shelf and downloaded from a vendor Web site or CD-ROM. Any software installation and machine configuration needed to be completed within the first 90 minutes of the event, which started at 10 a.m. on the show floor.

The original list of 149 potential Web services was taken from the XMethods Web site and narrowed using numbered poker chips randomly pulled by the contestants. The teams needed to incorporate three required services. Some pulled them into one cohesive application while others took a more fragmented approach.

The four judges from the press and analysts community made their selection using the following criteria:

* 25 percent application appeal – asking if it fulfilled the promise of Web services from an aesthetic point of view;
* 25 percent quality of tools, evaluating ease of use, power and ease of installation;
* 10 percent quality of code;
* 10 percent system maintenance;
* 10 percent system performance;
* 15 percent cost effectiveness; and
* 5 percent audience reaction.

Yomigaera aiyan sheffu (Be resurrected iron chef)

The five teams that participated in the event were: Team Collaxa, Team Microsoft, Team Oracle, Team webMethods and Team Universal Data Interface (UDI Co.), which included one team member from UDI and one team member from Kenamea. Collaxa utilized the J2EE-based Collaxa 2.0; Microsoft used Visual Studio .NET; Oracle employed Oracle9i JDeveloper; webMethods used webMethods 6; and UDI integrated both its own TierBroker and Kenamea’s Web messaging platform.

Each team was given 15 minutes to present its solution at the end of the development stage of the competition, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Team Collaxa went first, illustrating development and the services utilized. The other teams followed suit. Second-place finisher webMethods was a particular crowd pleaser, pulling the requirements into one cohesive application for ordering a t-shirt. A volunteer from the audience completed the online form, the confirmation was phoned into one of the team member’s cell phones and the FedEx package was pulled from under the table, eliciting a laugh from attendees.

Winner Microsoft also created a complete application, which, as one judge put it, would be called “Kidnap Helper” if available on the shelf. The team decided to develop their application around the scenario of a kidnap victim unsure of his or her location. The application user would use the zip code (required service) provided by a passerby to determine what city they were in and locate the nearest airport (required service). On the way, they would stop to pick up a book (required service) expected to provide information useful to their escape. Though a bit of a stretch, the solution illustrated the usefulness of Web services and the ease in which such an application can be developed. Microsoft promised to return next year to defend its title.

Renee Diiulio is an associate editor with Key3Media Events Inc., producer of COMDEX. She can be reached at

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