Under the bonnet

Under the bonnet

By Paul Montgomery

For those interested in how the digital dashboard works from a technological perspective, there are three letters to remember: COM. In short, application data is delivered by small applications called "controls" written using the Component Object Model (COM), and the content is displayed using Dynamic HTML.

"It allows us to surface any third-party COM control," said Mr Dembecki. "We have a lot of partners who took their applications written in Visual Basic and are now hosting them inside the "digital dashboard".

Mr Dembecki admitted Microsoft was focused on the desktop, rather than the server, but argued this meant that if and when a company did the integration work at the server level necessary to integrate various data sources for a portal, it would be easy to extend the resulting HTML content to a digital dashboard.

"It's important to know that other vendors' portals can be included in the digital dashboard. We're not excluding other portals," said Mr Dembecki.

One of the more interesting technical innovations in the upcoming Exchange 2000 will be the introduction of the Extensible Markup Language as a universal metadata descriptor. The nuggets in a dashboard will be able to be written as XML schemas with the new release. It will also help with interoperability with other systems.

"Most organisations have the data which could be turned into info nuggets. It's just a matter of [programming it]," said Mr Dembecki.

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