TCP/IP tool eases connectivity programming

By Tom Yager, InfoWorld |  Software

TCP/IP is the networking glue that binds the computing universe together. Every business uses it, most wired and wireless devices speak it, and corporate network users expect TCP/IP capabilities in every application they run.

As ubiquitous as TCP/IP is, network programming interfaces have hardly advanced since the invention of the "Berkeley sockets" low-level networking API. A developer who wants to build e-mail, file transfer, or network directory lookup capabilities into a custom application must learn the intricacies of each protocol and plod through the Berkeley API.

Users' insatiable appetite for connectivity needn't turn every programmer into a TCP/IP wizard. IP*Works Version 4 from /n software encapsulates complex TCP/IP protocols, such as NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol) or IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), in easy-to-use objects. IP*Works covers the most important network protocols with objects that run on every conceivable Windows language and platform. We were thoroughly impressed by IP*Works and gave it an Excellent rating.

There are IP*Works editions for Visual C++, Visual Basic, Delphi, Borland C++ Builder, and Active Server Pages (ASP). An ActiveX edition extends the reach of IP*Works to any Windows application, even Excel. Of particular note are ASP and Windows CE libraries that extend powerful networking capabilities to Web applications, portable devices, and embedded systems. Java and Kylix (Delphi for Linux) versions are due out shortly.

IP*Works Version 4

BUSINESS CASE


Corporate network users expect Internet or peer-to-peer connectivity from every application. This TCP/IP development toolkit reduces network programming to its simplest level. Even programmers who don't understand how TCP/IP works can use IP*Works to build network functions into their software. As a result, network-enabled applications hit the streets sooner and with far fewer errors than those written using Windows' low-level libraries.

TECHNOLOGY CASE


The Berkeley sockets programming interface is too basic for most application developers. IP*Works does an excellent job of encapsulating complex network operations, such as FTP file transfers and IMAP mail folder operations, in easy-to-use objects. The new Active Server Pages edition is invaluable for Windows Web application development.

PROS


+ Excellent selection of protocols, including hard-to-find UDP multicasting and IMAP

+ Objects are native to your chosen language, with an ActiveX catchall

+ Most protocols are supported in clear and SSL-encrypted versions

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