XML Helps Uncork Innovative Winery Web Sites



Freerun Technologies, Inc. was established in 1993 by Frank Forbes and Heidi Paul, experienced high-tech professionals with an interest in fine wine, destination travel, and the use of the Internet to facilitate their enjoyment. Freerun specializes in Web site design, hosting, implementation, and maintenance, as well as in turnkey e-commerce, e-marketing, content management, and information-sharing technologies. Initially, Freerun focused its efforts on the wine country destination traveler, creating sites and custom Web-based applications for the wine industry. Today, Freerun has a more diversified client base and is currently engaged in site-development projects for clients in biological sciences, financial and legal services, and conference and visitors centers. The company also operates the WineCountry.com network of regional travel destination Web sites, which enables travelers to America's premier wine regions to identify the best lodgings, restaurants, winery tasting rooms, activities, and events in the regions they plan to visit.

Freerun uses XML databases to store client-entered content; it uses XSLT stylesheets created in Stylus Studio® to publish dynamic Web pages using that data. Database editing is accomplished through a back-end application that uses stylesheets to create the HTML pages that comprise the Web sites. Creating XSLT stylesheets to transform XML data for presentation on the Web is at the center of Freerun's development cycle. Stylus Studio®'s powerful XSLT Editor, which includes Sense:X auto-completion, performance metrics profiling, and debugging features, makes writing the stylesheets quick and easy. Freerun reports that Stylus Studio®'s debugging tools and backmapping functionality save them countless hours of tedious, manual debugging. And Stylus Studio®'s XSLT Profiler is also fast becoming an indispensable tool for optimizing XSLT and Web site performance.

Freerun uses a similar XML-driven CMS architecture for every site they create and maintain. Being able to reuse application code from one site to another — simply applying stylesheets to achieve a particular client’s branding and look-and-feel — is the key to reducing development cycle time for Freerun's Web site development projects. By adopting Stylus Studio® as their core XML IDE, Freerun is able to be highly productive with a relatively small IT group. Stylus Studio®’s innovative GUI and ease-of-use features drop the learning curve for XML and related technologies like XQuery and XSLT, easing the workload of the company’s XML experts. Greg Desmond, Freerun's development manager, remarks that "Stylus is more intuitive than any other tool out there. It's a life-saver in terms of getting less skilled personnel up to speed."

"Freerun shows how a powerful, easy-to-use XML IDE can help a small group achieve great productivity, enabling them to build solid, versatile applications in reduced time and with reduced effort," said Stylus Studio®'s senior architect, Carlo Innocenti. Stylus Studio® is comprised of a suite of integrated XML tools that allow software developers to work efficiently with XML technologies, including Web services development, XML Schema data modeling, XSL/XSLT transformations, and much more. Stylus Studio® is used by over a quarter million software developers worldwide.

Additional Information

A printable PDF version of Freerun Technology's story (PDF, 1 MB), including background information about how Stylus Studio® helped them solve their business problem.

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