Architectural solutions to agent -enabling e -commerce portals with pull /push abilities

David B Ulmer, Pace University


The Internet-based World Wide Web has had an enormous impact on business and society. It has succeeded largely because of its open architecture and ease-of-use. Although it was originally designed for distributed and interactive information sharing, it has evolved into a powerful business platform in which electronic commerce is driving fundamental change in consumer buying patterns. However, because of the ubiquitous nature of electronic marketplaces on the Internet, buyers have an enormous variety of items available to them, effectively overwhelming them with choices. A new e-commerce paradigm is in high demand in which software agents can play an important role in automating many transactional activities like the discovery, comparison, selection, purchase of products or services, and the shipping of products. But so far, the Web-based marketplaces are mainly designed for human interaction and do not support efficient interaction with software agents. This dissertation studies the current e-commerce software architecture and the special needs of transaction software agents, enhances the current e-commerce software architecture for agent support, and designs the corresponding interfaces and supporting systems. The interface design and supporting systems will accommodate the format and interface needs of the human users, while enhancing the transactional capabilities of software agents through an adaptable and robust interface. Transaction agents can operate in either a pull or push manner, which require different supporting systems and architecture. Web services are utilized that facilitate an Agent-Enabling Interface (AEI) API for exposing the business logic of an e-commerce portal by leveraging existing Internet protocols. This design is further enhanced to enable the transaction agent to react to marketplace changes and delayed transactions via callback from the server, implemented through a deviation from the current software architecture with a server-side Callback tier. The client-side supporting system is also proposed and designed to work with generic transaction agents. It features a Generic Middleware between Agents and Portals (GMAP) that insulates the transaction agent and minimizes its modification to enable e-commerce portal interoperability. The supporting systems on the client and server communicate via Web services and provide the functionality required to enable a transaction agent to address, and call the business logic of an e-commerce portal thus preserving the back-end of the portal. In summary, this research defines solutions that improve the interoperability between transaction software agents and e-commerce portals via client and server supporting systems. Using an exposed business API, this enhancement enables agents to execute the same business logic as the human-based interface thus eliminating changes to the back-end of the portal to support transaction agents.

Subject Area

Computer science|Management

Recommended Citation

Ulmer, David B, "Architectural solutions to agent -enabling e -commerce portals with pull /push abilities" (2004). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3119929.



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