Looksoftware Shakes Up Product Line
May 24, 2005 Alex Woodie
Looksoftware is re-shuffling its line of application modernization software for iSeries, the Australian software company revealed last week. In addition to renaming some of its products, it has added a new runtime component called lookserver that will also provide an integration layer for linking composite applications, and it is also introducing a new thin client offering for speedy development and roll-outs of browser-based interfaces for less demanding users.
The delivery of lookserver later this year will bring customers new options for how they want to deliver their iSeries and zSeries interfaces. First the company will offer smartclient edition (SE), which was formally called newlook standard edition. This option will offer the highest level of functionality and speed to the user, with the trade-off of requiring software to be installed on the PC. Customers that want an easy-to-deploy Web interface will use the new thinclient (TE) edition, while those that want to deploy their host interfaces on personal digital assistants (PDA) will choose the mobileclient (ME) option.
Marcus Dee, the company’s managing director, says the enhanced product line will offer looksoftware’s enterprise and ISV customers the capability to develop from a single set of development tools, and choose their deployment mode depending on their audience at runtime.
“iSeries customers can use lookserver to deliver the most appropriate UI style without changing existing applications,” Dee says. “On the other hand, business partners and customers may need thin client access, while mobile users are different again. Lookserver, thinclient, and mobileclient extend our existing smartclient (or rich client) support to give iSeries customers a complete UI framework for reusing and extending their existing applications.”
Look’s customers will be able to develop their SE, TE, or ME interfaces using the version 7.0 releases of looksoftware’s newlook and centric development tools, which started shipping late last year (see “Newlook Software Builds Smart Clients from iSeries Apps”). No matter which delivery model, developers will build their interfaces using an array of graphical controls, including text and list boxes, data grids, option and command buttons, menu items, and tab controls. Those choosing the SE option to deploy smart clients will have several additional controls available to them, including scroll bars, track bars, progress bars, list views, numeric combos, and tree views.
Look’s ActiveX-based SE interface and controls will appeal to iSeries shops requiring new screens for transaction-intensive back-end systems, as well as other users requiring the highest levels of speed and functionality, the company says. While the SE will require software to be installed on the Windows PC (the ME and TE editions are completely server-based), it offers the advantage of supporting OS/400 break messages, which the TE and ME editions will not support in their first release, look says. Other areas where the ME and TE versions will offer limited support to OS/400 shops (as compared to the SE edition) are 5250 emulation, FTP support, keyboard support, and integration with desktop applications.
The company is segmenting its browser-based offerings into three levels of HTML viewers, including “intelligent browsers” that will be used for the TE options, and which support the full range of lookserver technologies; older, less capable browsers that can’t take full advantage of lookserver’s features; and browsers that run on PDAs.
Looksoftware is also looking to develop new integration and service-oriented architecture (SOA) capabilities through a new product called SOArchitect, which will enable developers to create Web services. “In the next quarter, we will announce further extensions to our composite applications support with the introduction of our first product addressing SOA,” Dee says.
The new lookserver software is still in the development phases, with beta tests underway or beginning shortly. General availability is expected in the next three months, the company says. If you are interested in participating in the beta test, the company invites you to fill out an application at www.looksoftware.com/server.htm.