Doug Ross is chief technology officer at BadBlue and leads its
development. A co-founder of Fastech Integration and former director
of technology at Alpha Software, Ross led development of its best-
selling Alpha Five database. The following Q&A is continued from the
previous issue of BadBlue report in which the topics of PHP, peer-to-
peer and open-source software were discussed.
Q: BadBlue's browser-based user-interface... what was the motivation
behind using the browser as the basis for interaction with the
product, as opposed to a typical Windows user-interface?
A: There were several. Firstly, we wanted users - whether it's a guy
doing PHP development in his garage all the way up to a reseller -
to be able to brand BadBlue as their own. Since the interface is
all HTML, anyone familiar with markup can create their own user-
experience. In my opinion, that's compelling. A corporation that
needs a desktop web services platform can brand the product any
way they see fit without us having to charge them or do custom
Secondly, standards. We've consciously attempted to steer towards
standards wherever possible. So in the case of a web-based UI
[user interface], we have a standards-based approach using HTTP
that users can extend seamlessly. That really can't effectively
be done in a Windows GUI product without a ton of engineering
So, in short, a decision to use a browser-based UI was really all
about letting the customer have the final say. I think that's a
good thing and I think customers think it's a good thing.
Q: As I read the documentation around BadBlue, there's really a lot
there, even though the product footprint is small. You've thrown
in a ton of "programmer-type" features that not all users may be
aware of. Stuff like scheduling, peer-to-peer support, certainly
the Office document sharing... how do you decide what to put in,
and where's this all heading?
A: Great question, although I wouldn't characterize the features as
"thrown in" (laughs). From the beginning, we felt that peer-to-
peer architectures merited attention. Whether P2P was directed at
file-sharing, content distribution, grid computing... marshalling
a peer's services should be based upon standards. So the server
is accessible as a web-server (or) as a P2P server or both.
So given the fact that the peer is controllable through web
services and can be completely customized and built-out through
support of CGI and ISAPI... you've got a platform that is tailor-
made for all sorts of interesting business applications. And it's
cheap and standards-based. So we think it's a great value
proposition for businesses interested in building applications
that tap into web services or peer-to-peer or any combination.
Q: Last question: what's next?
A: More on several fronts. We're fighting to make PHP mainstream in
more enterprises because we think the cost savings are huge. It's
certainly mainstream in the "real world" of web development. So
by giving PHP more system integration capabilities, it's a win for
everyone. And look for some interesting vertical applications like
inventory part-finding in various industries using P2P.
And I would invite anyone interested in discussing vertical uses of
the BadBlue platform to email me at the obvious address,
email@example.com. We're always looking for more interesting industry