Progress Software Corp is previewing some elements of Version 8 of its Progress Application Development Environment at its first annual worldwide users conference in Orlando, Florida this week. The product has just entered beta testing and is scheduled for customer availability in the autumn. The aim is to establish a re-usable application component architecture for […]
Progress Software Corp is previewing some elements of Version 8 of its Progress Application Development Environment at its first annual worldwide users conference in Orlando, Florida this week. The product has just entered beta testing and is scheduled for customer availability in the autumn. The aim is to establish a re-usable application component architecture for software components that the company calls SmartObjects. Version 8 will include a development framework and on-line wizard help system to aid developers in producing and supporting Smart Objects, and will also support the integration of Visual Basic components, including those offered by the company’s own recently-acquired Crescent division. It will also include a new Translation Manager to help with internationalisation issues. Despite its Crescent buy, Progress remains highly suspicious of the world of Visual Basic. Gail Goodman, vice-president of marketing at Progress, claimed that despite its apparent success, Visual Basic has been a total failure when producing applications supporting more than 10 users, and said its objects are very low-level, low functionality components, responding to mouse-click events. The easy visual interface at the front end can also fool programmers into biting off more than they can chew at the back end. If you can’t see the total problem when you begin, you’re trapped, she said. Crescent is working on a Basic to C++ translator-compiler codenamed Spitfire that should deal with some of the performance problems and help Visual Basic users to avoid the awkward transition to Visual C++. But Progress is working at it from the other end as well. It views client-server systems as a kind of iceberg, with the visual client element showing above the waterline while the bulk of the iceberg – the logic and data elements running on the server – remains hidden under the sea. These are the elements most likely to scupper the boats of unwary visual programmers, said Progress. Using the Object Management Group’s Business Object Model as its basis, it will begin off ering its users and third party software developers the facility to use customisable components through SmartObjects.
Developers writing these objects in the company’s proprietary language will be able to specify areas where future customisation can be carried out, such as at the compiled component level, with no source code involved. Visual Basic components can be surrounded by SmartObjects in order to add the necessary logic and data layers, and the company said that other non-Progress-built components can also be integrated (though not customised) in the future like SmartObjects. It said it has consulted its third party developers over SmartObjects, and that they are behind the move and will support it – which is vital, because the company said that $1,000m-worth of third party Progress applications were sold in 1994 from 2,400 applications partners. While the first Smar tObjects will emerge in the autumn with Version 8, the transition of Progress into a full object-oriented environment will take place over the next year or so, with a full typing methodology and inheritance capabilities added to the Progress language and an Advanced Storage Architecture database and active repository promised for the first half of 1996. This will support databases of 100Gb and up with high-availability features for on-line rebuilds. The storage architecture will support third party repositories as well as its own, it said. Further application development tools for building, customising, assembling and managing objects will also emerge next year. Progress said it has now shipped more than 250,000 licences.