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Giving Spreadsheets Extra Juice

Custom Fit

Juice provides a Java API for integration into custom applications on multiple platforms. It also comes with a Windows-only Microsoft Excel add-in for developing collaborative and real-time spreadsheets. Juice's real value, though, is its ability to aggregate and poll disparate data sources, acting as both proxy and cache.

Juice interface
click to enlarge

Juice can query any JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) data source, and did just that to our IBM DB2 database. The server does not rely on external data-source definitions, such as a system or user DSN (data source name), and it includes connection pooling for higher volume sources. Server management from a Java-based client can be performed locally or remotely. The management console is easy to navigate and utilitarian--there are no bells or whistles, just a simple console that gets the job done.

The server lacks external authentication mechanisms, though it includes a role-based system. It also offers integration with NTLM (NT LAN Man), an authentication process used by all Windows NT products. It does not support Active Directory, which is a mistake, and though there is no support currently for LDAP, this is in the works. It also lacks work-flow support, a standard feature in offerings from Nobilis.

The Excel add-in is easy to use for simple tasks, though you'll need to brush up on your SQL if you want to query relational database sources. The client communicates with the server using an extensive XML application protocol. SSL is an option if security between the client and server is necessary.

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