San Jose, California-based object-oriented software start-up TopTier Inc has developed a TCP/IP-based protocol that enables intranet, and in future, Internet users access to databases by simple drag and drop. According to TopTier’s chairman and chief technical officer Shai Agassi, HyperData Transfer Protocol, HDTP, differs from the HTTP HyperText Transfer Protocol, in that it is multi-directional and data-centric, with its hyperlinks describing the link itself, and not just the locations at either end as with uni-directional, text-centric HTTP. This multi- directional element is possible by storing the hyperlink keywords as objects; metadata on each object is embedded in the link and can combine with the metadata of other objects it is connected to, by a simple drag and drop action which generates both HTML links and Structured Query Language queries based on objects’ relationship with each other, on the fly. TopTier believes the protocol is particularly suited to accessing corporate databases over intranets, subject to the authorization policies in place, as it can automatically generate Web pages at the database front-end as access is granted. The company has met with all the major database vendors, as well as IBM Corp and Apple Computer Inc, but has not as yet signed any agreements. TopTier also has plans to submit HyperData, which has a patent pending, to standards committees such as the World Wide Web Consortium, W3C, and the International Standards Organization, in the future. HyperData will run on all Windows formats as well as Macintosh and PowerMac systems. Shipping is scheduled for the next quarter and pricing will start at around $10,000 per license, depending on the number of objects that are in the customer’s database.