Curl is an object-oriented programming language designed to replace HTML, JavaScript, and related tools as a means for creating interactive Web pages. Named after the curly brackets used in formatting the language, Curl is intended to provide users a "gentle slope" for learning, and also provide sophisticated capabilities for advanced developers. Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Curl was developed by David A. Kranz at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of HTML, playing a major role.

Because source code takes less time to transfer than compiled code, Curl applications are delivered to desktop computer clients as source code. The source code is compiled on the client-side by Surge, a run-time environment distributed as a Web browser plug-in that lets users view Curl content. In order to meet everyone's needs, Curl is designed to interoperate with HTTP and standard server-side CGI scripts, and includes a SOAP implementation to connect to emerging Web services.

Proponents of Curl predict that Curl's potential ability to integrate the different tasks of markup languages like HTML, scripting languages like JavaScript, and object-oriented programming languages like Java will make it a success, especially if the Surge plug-in is picked up by major content distributors, as Macromedia's Flash was.

Critics predict that Curl's business model will not work. Right now, each Surge plug-in "reports" back to Curl Corporation and the developer pays Curl a fee based on the amount of code Surge executes. The "reporting" aspect of Curl is expected to raise privacy concerns for end-users and the pay-per-use billing model is expected to cause problems for developers who must work within a fixed budget.

At this time, Curl will only run on a Windows operating system, although Linux and Macintosh versions of Curl are currently being worked on. Curl's initial primary market is expected to be the corporate intranet.

This was last updated in September 2005

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