By Simon Goodley Progress Software will roll out the next generation of its suite of enterprise application development and deployment products next month. Code-named ‘Skywalker,’ the suite includes four distinct products; the next version (9) of its database and 4GL, WebSpeed 3 – for linking web pages to transaction systems – and Open AppServer – […]
By Simon Goodley
Progress Software will roll out the next generation of its suite of enterprise application development and deployment products next month. Code-named ‘Skywalker,’ the suite includes four distinct products; the next version (9) of its database and 4GL, WebSpeed 3 – for linking web pages to transaction systems – and Open AppServer – Progress’ application server engine. The Open AppServer will provide a Universal External Interface (UEI) that allows 4GL application logic executing within the Open AppServer to interoperate with any client (4GL, Java, ActiveX, or HTML) and with any data source (Oracle, ODBC, DB2/400). The Open AppServer, Progress claims, will be a major step towards achieving true application modularity and standards-based interoperability. Subsequent releases of Open AppServer will fully support Corba (common object request broker architecture). These two products will also contain the next generation of the Progress RDBMS engine, which will support the latest SQL, ODBC, and JDBC standards, Java-stored procedures and Java triggers. All of these are designed to allow standard and high-performance accessibility to any type of client wishing to access Progress RDBMS data. The hope is that Progress’ customer base can still use existing applications that they’ve developed, while being able to move towards the newer technologies.
Doug Merret, business consultant at Progress Software, says, Progress is offering exciting new products to support its partners in the creation, deployment and maintenance of ‘future-proof’ applications. However, whether Skywalker is in fact anything new, or just a marketing umbrella to reposition old products is debatable. Merret argues that while a lot of the developments in Skywalker may well be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, it represents the next step of achieving its vision the universal application architecture (UAA). The UAA is a method by which applications written in any Progress tool set (Progress, Apptivity – Progress’ multi-tier Java development and deployment environment – or Webspeed), can be seamlessly mixed. The UAA technique wraps the business logic of applications in a layer of code that enables them to be treated as objects that conform to the common object request broker architecture. Central to the UAA direction and actually winning new business is the Apptivity product. Progress splashed out $13m in May 1997 to buy Apptivity, a specialist in Java tools. Apptivity 2.0 also includes the Apptivity AppServer, which allows the integration of Java clients, any data source and Corba objects within a multi-tier Java deployment environment. Apptivity 3.0 (targeted for Q298, but eventually shipped in Q4) supports UAA by providing a complete Corba-based AppServer for integrating any client, any application or service, and any data source accessible within a Corba messaging infrastructure. Further down the road, Progress will enhance its Apptivity Java development tool to combine with the open application server to form one common application server currently code-named Vader and due late 1999 or early 2000. Merret says that with Vader, users will be able to use any client, any Corba objects and any data source, from a flat ASCII file or a wrapped PeopleSoft object.
A longer version of this article appears in January’s edition of Software Futures.