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The WBI Development Kit provides a convenient and flexible API for programming intermediaries on the web. In this case, intermediaries are computational entities that lie along the HTTP stream and are programmed to tailor, customize, personalize, or otherwise enhance data as they flow along the stream. A caching web proxy is a simple example of an HTTP intermediary. Intermediary-based programming is particularly useful if you want to add functionality to a system but cannot modify the data producer (e.g., server or database) or the data consumer (e.g., browser). WBI is a way to quickly and easily build intermediary applications.

Since WBI DK version 4.4, WBI plugins have been compatible with IBM WebSphere Transcoding Publisher with a few exceptions. Transcoding intermediaries transform data from one form into another; for instance, an intermediary might transform XML into HTML to be viewed by a web browser (see the XML/XSL sample plugin), or transform images with millions of colors to ones with just a few for displays with limited color depth. The key is that the server need not deliver different content in these cases, but some intermediary process can operate on the usual data, transforming the data as needed.

Closer to home, there are many applications of web intermediaries for personalization of web pages. For instance, the Personal History example shows how to use WBI to maintain a history of web usage per user, and also how to customize web pages based on a user's history.

If you are already using WBI DK version 4.1, see our notes on porting your plugins to the version 4.3. Little or no porting should be required in moving from 4.3 to 4.4, but see the Release Notes v. 4.4 for details. Once again, no porting is required in moving from 4.4 to 4.5, but several new APIs and other changes might make it worth your while to update your code, see our latest Release Notes and Porting Notes.

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