The middle range of the Expert Systems market was galvanised into a rush of activity last week with the release of two new systems that are expected to compete for the ground between Intellicorp’s KEE Knowledge Engineering Environment at the top end of the market and the Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute’s Krystl for MS-DOS at the bottom. Thorn EMI Plc’s Software Sciences Ltd in Farnborough, Hampshire, has just released a new version of the Nexpert system products which can integrate with relational databases and IBM mainframes, and is aimed at closely integrating expert systems with commercial data processing. Software Sciences is marketing the Nexpert system, developed and produced by Neuron Data, a French company founded in 1985 and now based in Palo Alto, California. Software Sciences’ John Lewis expects the new products to enable Nexpert to deliver around 60% of the capacity of the KEE system. The new products are available for the IBM AT, PS/2 and 80386 machines, the DEC VAXstation range, Sun, Apollo, Hewlett-Packard 9000 series, IBM RT and other Unix workstations, providing integration with Ingres, Sybase, Oracle and Informix. These are priced at UKP1,200 per copy. Nexpert is also on beta test for IBM mainframes and that version is due for release in early 1989. It enables users to develop an expert system on a personal computer or workstation using Nexpert’s Object graphical development environment, and then to deliver it on to the IBM mainframe without any changes to the knowledge base. The bridge to IBM’s SQL/DS relational database is transparent and the run-time library can be linked with any existing application or external program using standard OS linking conventions. This is possible by virtue of Nexpert’s Callable Interface providing for call in, call out to external, traditional MIS programs written in Cobol, PL/I, Fortran or C. Nexpert’s Runtime Library is being implemented under IBM’s MVS, with bridges to CICS, DB2 and IMS. Prices on the IBM machines range from UKP3,650 for a baby 9370-20 to UKP25,000 on a high-end 3090-500.