At 90 companies and 165 attendees, CableLabs drew a bigger- than-expected crowd at the Feb. 14 OpenCable Developers' Conference and OpenCable Application Platform interoperability testing event.

About 13 participating companies presented topics covering reference OCAP/MHP uses, application developer toolkits, content authoring tools, application servers and data carousels for iTV, as well as software test and diagnostic tools, and other technologies, CableLabs says.

After the conference, the organization "opened its facilities to 14 implementers who successfully demonstrated the interoperability of several different iTV applications simultaneously running on various manufacturers' hardware platforms," CableLabs added.

The conference and interoperability test, coordinated by CableLabs and 20 vendors, was one of a series of such developers' conferences intended to depict cable's role in making OpenCable and retail digital set-tops and other such devices a reality, the organization says.

OCAP, published in early January, is the middleware portion of OpenCable, a CableLabs initiative that seeks to standardize and add portability to set-tops tagged for retail distribution. It consists of a hardware and software specification. While the hardware portion is complete, and covers the point-of-deployment (POD)-host interface for set-tops sold at retail, the middleware portion has taken long enough to whet that cable curiosity.

Sun Microsystems has handled OCAP's executable engine, and Microsoft and Liberate have been the leading authors of the middleware's presentation engine. Others, such as PowerTV and Canal+, have also contributed.

The published version was dubbed OCAP 1.0, with OCAP 2.0 due to be finalized shortly, CableLabs said in January. OCAP 1.0 supports an execution engine environment based on Java technology, and will serve as a core for future OCAP products. Version 2.0 adds a presentation engine (PE) and bridge for the two to work together.

In November, CableLabs announced OCAP would include the Multimedia Home Platform middleware specs developed by Digital Video Broadcasting.

DVB is a 300-member industry consortium that aims to design global standards for delivering digital TV and data services. The group ratified the MHP standard last year, and it was adopted by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.

"We discovered that there is a ready-made MHP community of reference implementation vendors, interactive applications developers and infrastructure tool vendors that can quickly apply their expertise to the OCAP environment," says Don Dulchinos, VP of CableLabs' advanced platforms and services unit, of the conference. "I believe this larger-than-expected turnout is partly the result of our active alliance with the European DVB organization."