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Crossroads 2002 A-List Award Winners

Curl Corporation
Cambridge, MA

Curl Content Language and Delivery Platform
> Web Integrated Development Environment


Users of business, financial, scientific and other complex applications have sacrificed client-side processing and functionality in moving to Web-based applications. Curl’s customers are looking to maximize the value of existing hardware and network infrastructure by putting the presentation layer back on the desktop and delivering personalization via Web-services-style interaction. Common strategic objectives included:

§ Enabling true client/server functionality in a Web-based environment

§ Extending Web capabilities with a single integrated content language


Curl Corporation‘s content development and delivery platform, addresses the usability issues of the Web. The Curl content language enables the development of full application-level functionality and a substantially richer, more interactive Web experience for the user, including 2-D and 3-D graphics. The Surge software platform offers real-time dynamic execution of all Web content, from simple pages to complex computational applications. While preserving existing Web investments, the Curl environment is designed for a Web-services world in which clients and servers interoperate over XML and SOAP.


Near-term value: Customers have used the Curl content language and Surge software platform to develop or rearchitect presentation-intensive applications in which business decision makers or scientists need a full-featured client to conduct their work or research.

Enterprise innovation: The Curl technology moves beyond the primitive look and feel of HTML-based applications while simplifying the development environment and making more effective use of existing hardware.

Technology gains: Developers say Curl technology brings the hodgepodge of approaches—ASP, JSP, servlets, HTML with embedded scripts and Flash, etc.—into a single cohesive environment. With Surge, the presentation logic is part of the Curl page executing on the client. The client talks directly to the business logic layer via XML, eliminating pre-staging of the presentation on the server side. This reduces network traffic and lightens the load on the servers.


Project strategy: For several reasons, Curl customers are proceeding in a step-by-step manner. First, the interface is so much richer that some attention must be given to the human factors of phasing it into a large application. (It can make the rest of the application look clumsy by contrast.) Second, the Surge software platform requires that a plug-in be downloaded to each client machine. This has not proven to be intrusive for end users, but Curl’s customers are still working out the security implications for use outside the firewall.

Learning: Customers say that the Curl content language is best suited for developers grounded in two worlds, object-oriented programming and fat-client systems such as Windows, Macintosh, or Motif. Staff members with these qualifications can become highly proficient after 2–3 months of training and practice. HTML page developers will need more extensive training and mentoring.

Resources: Adopting the Curl content language and Surge is a good way to take stock of the flexibility and maintainability of your architecture. Customers recommend spending time to develop a strategy for coexistence between the Surge software platform and your other Web- development environments.

Fit: Curl technology is a good fit for applications where end-user productivity can be dramatically increased by a classic full-featured client-side experience.


Curl is a privately held company with 140 employees.

Published: January 2002