Farelogix said it is building an open-source front end for its FLX platform that will better meet the needs of travel management companies and enable airlines to merchandise their products more easily.

Dubbed Project Hawkeye, it can be used as an off-the-shelf agent desktop or customized and extended to fit a particular customer's business, preferences or workflow needs.The application can be used separately from FLX when it is developed against a user's own travel source connections, Jim Davidson, chief executive officer of Farelogix, said.

Davidson said the source code for the application, dubbed Project Hawkeye, will be made available for download by anyone who wants to use it. The first download is scheduled for March 26."We are building a foundation of applications that agencies can use in an open-source community," he said. By making Hawkeye available to any and all developers, "we'll create a totally ubiquitous front end."

The Hawkeye application is designed to support air, car and hotel shopping, booking and servicing, unbundled selling and merchandising, reservations servicing (exchange, refund, upgrades, seat assignments, etc.), and profile integration with legacy or third- party systems. It is designed for a content-independent environment and enables users to create, manage and service multi-source PNRs.

Davidson noted that Farelogix is not being overly generous in making the source code available at no charge. "There are going to be a certain number of people who take that source code and come back to us for our blue box" -- the Farelogix FLX middleware platform "and we're not giving that away." The FLX platform supports a business rules engine and connectivity to a variety of traditional systems, supplier-direct connections and Web-based content.

Davidson described how the community would work: "XYX agency downloads the source code. It does things to it and comes up with a cool way to book hotels, and it adds that back into the community." He noted that if a feature is developed that is a trade secret, "you don't have to put that back in." And not everyone will want to switch on every innovation. Some developers might think it fun to make certain colors flash, for example. Other members of the community can block such features. Farelogix will act as manager of the community and will release a new version "every quarter or so."

The idea behind Hawkeye is "to get more innovation back into the travel industry," Davidson said. Because so much of the travel industry's technology has been developed as proprietary, closed systems, innovation has flourished only on the negotiation side, he said. "There's pent-up demand out there, and we hope to kick-start a lot of great talent."

Davidson said Hawkeye will enable airlines to get their merchandising and unbundling models onto the user interfaces of travel management companies much sooner. While some airlines -- notably Air Canada -- have made their application protocol interfaces available to all comers, few entities have come up with a graphical user interface that can support them, he said. "It's like walking around with a four-pronged extension cord," Davidson said. "It's not trivial work."