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IBM unveils Smart Tags rival

IBM has announced the release of Answer Delivery, the first product to be launched as a result of its recent partnership with small technology developer Atomica.

The new application is compatible with IBM's Websphere Portal Server and can link data in back-end servers to related words on a Web site, a feature similar to Microsoft's controversial Smart Tags.

Answer Delivery can be used to turn words contained on Web sites or Windows-based applications into Web links. By clicking on a word while holding down the "Alt" key, users can access related data from either a corporate database or Atomica's own database of general information.

Bob Rosenshein, the chairman and chief executive of Atomica, said: "Every word on the screen becomes 'smart'. When you Alt-click on a word, up pops a window with context-sensitive information."

Microsoft Smart Tags, which is included in Office XP, allow users to access Web content or information stored in their own computers by clicking on certain keywords. Microsoft had planned to include the technology in Windows XP and Internet Explorer but pulled the feature as a result of concerns over possible contravention of US competitive trade laws.

According to Peter O'Kelly, an analyst with Patricia Seybold, the ability to objectively access content is what sets Answer Delivery apart from Smart Tags. "Atomica is totally user-directed," he said. "It's not doing anything on your behalf unless you tell it to."

Atomica changed its name from GuruNet in November of last year when it began to focus on offering its XML-based technology to corporate customers. IBM's Websphere portal software competes with products such as Microsoft's SharePoint Portal Server and Oracle's Oracle9i Application Server Portal.

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