Right now Informix Software Inc isn’t very good at inspiring the industry’s confidence. Leaving aside the marketing fiasco over its first quarter numbers – see todays Barbed Wire section – the company’s recently-unveiled application tools strategy had a certain ring of desperation about it. Presumably this is part of the reason why Informix is the […]
Right now Informix Software Inc isn’t very good at inspiring the industry’s confidence. Leaving aside the marketing fiasco over its first quarter numbers – see todays Barbed Wire section – the company’s recently-unveiled application tools strategy had a certain ring of desperation about it. Presumably this is part of the reason why Informix is the first database company to stand up in support of a UDE Universal Development Environment being peddled by San Jose, California-based Formida Software Inc. Informix is going to reference sell UDE for use with its Universal Server object-relational database. While Informix’s NewEra and Data Director development tools provide, in its opinion, middleware allowing PowerBuilder and Visual Basic to access Universal Server, Formida claims its 4GL can access Universal Server natively. It also works with Oracle Corp and IBM Corp object-relational databases plus standard relational products. For example, UDE will enable a customer to create an application using objects created in Informix DataBlade or Oracle Data Cartridge formats. And support for Sybase Inc’s Adaptive Server? Sybase has no cohesive object-relational strategy, in Formida’s view, Who knows if they’ll be shipping an object- relational product in a year’s time. That said, it is currently negotiating with the company to extend PowerBuilder for use with Adaptive Server.
Formida says Informix has been struggling desperately to allow people to build applications so they can sell it [Universal Server], and that’s why it has buddied-up with it for UDE. Informix reportedly went to its own New Era, Java and PowerBuilder people and asked if they could build a killer development application for Universal Server in two weeks. They all laughed, reportedly leaving Informix to tell Formida you’re the only ones that can do it. Key to UDE is an object manager claimed to recognize all object types and locations. UDE provides a C programming API in its 4GL enabling developers to manipulate and deploy objects within new applications. While Formida says it wants to be the PowerSoft of the object-relational world, its price-point, with an average UDE package costing $50,000 suggests, it will also be vying with the three-tier, enterprise application development tool companies such as Forte Software and Dynasty Technologies. UDE costs $5,000 per developer with run- times in the mid-$100s. Parts of UDE applications can be exported with web-based front-ends; Java commands will be able to call Formida’s core object manager and database interfaces later in the year. As well as creating applications using extended data types, Formida says UDE can extend existing NewEra or Visual Basic applications with new data types and enables vanilla relational applications to be migrated to incorporate object- relational functionality. It supports Corba and DCOM messaging. The company claims an average C programmer can learn Formida 4GL in three days. Formida is a recently-formed subsidiary of 12- year-old Sydney, Australia-based CAD/CAM integrator Formida Holdings Ltd – listed on the Australian Stock Exchange – created to productize the object manager technology the company picked up from a Liverpool University PhD student some years ago. Formida has been selling application development tools based upon the technology under the name Mosaix in the UK and Australia for the last couple of years. It claims 80 customers. Last year it picked up $15m capital from institutional investors in London to bring UDE to market. It set up Formida Software headquarters in San Jose and hired an additional 60 staff for the unit; it’s now at 75. The division did $3m in 1996. CEO Roger Barnes was recruited 18 months ago from Andersen Consulting’s technology investment banking arm.