REVIEWER: Will Pugh, chief architect for SourceLabs.

BACKGROUND: SourceLabs provides premier support services for open source infrastructure.

PLATFORMS: HP Pavilion zv5000 AMD Athlon 64 Notebook with Windows XP and Linux for development work. Four-processor 3.4 GHz Intel Xeon Dell rack server for production.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Part of providing top-tier support for open source is being able to monitor and track ongoing changes in the open source communities. We need to easily extract relevant information from new Web pages and Web pages that are continually being updated or modified. WebQL allows us to do sophisticated data extraction and search as often as desired.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: WebQL allows us to create queries to pull information from Web pages so that we can use it to better respond to customer support queries. We needed to be able to query Web pages and pull critical information out of them. WebQL allows us to conduct sophisticated search quickly and effortlessly so we can spend more time developing innovative tools and processes around the information we care most about.

STRENGTHS: WebQL's main strength is its merger of powerful querying capabilities with a simple query language. We found that we were able to leverage our background in SQL to more effectively come up to speed on WebQL when we were beginning. This high-level language proved useful in helping us query disparate sources and a variety of file types on the Web. Additionally, we were quite pleased with the performance and stability of WebQL. Our server has never needed any administrative work related to failures or crashes.

WEAKNESSES: WebQL has two main weaknesses we encountered. The first is that WebQL does not have native database support in Linux. It supports unixODBC, but we do not think unixODBC is the best way to access databases in Linux. The second is that there is no WebQL studio for Linux or Mac OS X. Additionally, there are a few more Internet protocols we wish it would support (such as mbox).

SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated several systems for querying external data. However, WebQL provided a language more familiar to development and nondevelopment staff, along with the ability to interoperate with a wide variety of systems.

DELIVERABLES: WebQL delivers the data we care about in the structures and formats we can use most effectively. It also provides us with a standard query language to join relevant information from numerous systems without requiring all of the information to be in a single database product. WebQL has the ability to output our data in industry-standard formats or in proprietary formats based on our requirements.

VENDOR SUPPORT: QL2 sent a support engineer along with the sales representative to a product evaluation meeting. All technical questions were expertly handled by this engineer, and follow-up questions were quickly answered via email. In our implementation phase, the support team was very quick to respond  with answers to all technical questions. For any problems we found, there was always a work-around option available. It is clear that the support staff has expert knowledge and field experience implementing complex solutions with WebQL.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for QL2's WebQL is excellent. The help files cover every topic needed to easily run the product and create complex programs with it. SourceLabs' employees read all of the documentation provided during evaluation of the product, and its information was a determining factor in the selection of WebQL.

WebQL 3.0
QL2 Software, Inc.
316 Occidental Avenue South
Suite 410
Seattle, WA 98104-3859
(206) 443-6836
www.ql2.com


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