Web Services and SOA Isn’t Just Hype–It’s Real, Magic Says
October 18, 2005 Alex Woodie
No doubt about it, there’s a ton of hype surrounding Web services and service oriented architecture (SOA) these days, and more than a few people harboring doubts about whether these technologies will actually deliver on the promises. But you won’t find Magic Software‘s Glenn Johnson among the crowd of unbelievers. The vice president of marketing for the development tool maker says Web services are providing real benefits in the field, and are here to stay.
“Because we have all learned to be cynical about the hype of new technology, we weren’t expecting it [Web services] to explode three years ago,” Johnson says. But “it seems right on track in usage. Web services has proved to be not just hype, and it is used pretty extensively in real world applications.”
One of the industries on the leading edge of Web services adoption is logistics and transportation, where traditional EDI processes are being replaced with XML-based processes, Johnson says. “Web services are so much more easily extensible than EDI. They have so much less overhead,” Johnson says. “Logistics is an area we’ve seen a lot of that. Another is financial services.”
Magic Software is planning to bolster its Web services story with a new version of its fourth generation language (4GL) development environment, eDeveloper version 10. The new IDE, which is most popular in the OS/400 and Windows development arena, is currently undergoing beta tests. The company had initially planned to have the new IDE available by now, but delays in preparing all the supporting materials around the world (the product is sold in more than 40 countries) has set the product launch back to January 1.
When eDeveloper version 10 ships, it will offer a number of new features and enhancements geared toward supporting SOA and the development of Web services and composite applications. These features will include enhancements to the core eDeveloper “engine,” as well as new version control and debugging features, new user interface controls, and other enhancements.
“What we’ve really done is significantly enhance the composite application development capability in eDeveloper 10,” Johnson says. “A new repository and wizards will allow you to create components and then [bring] various components into composite application.”
A new Composite Resource Repository (CRR) in eDeveloper 10 will include the wizards that help users create components such as Web services, DLL, and stored procedures. The CRR will also enable users to define application objects as components, export components, distribute changes, and create their own wizards.
It will be easier for teams of programmers to collaborate thanks to the new version control capabilities in eDeveloper. Any version control system that is compliant with the Source Code Control (SCC) API version 1.01 will work, the company says. Magic has also changed the basic layout of objects in eDeveloper by including a folder with XML files that represent all the objects in a project. This is a major change for eDeveloper that will have a far-reaching affect, Johnson says.
“From an internal standpoint, the character has changed quite a bit. It used to be a black box. There was no capability to look at a text file. It was all contained in a table,” he says. “What we’ve done is separated out the runtime contained in an XML file that contains the logics of a particular project.”
While Magic is maintaining the table-driven nature of eDeveloper, separating out the runtime as an XML file will bring the product more in-line with industry-standard approaches to software development, Johnson says. “The output is a text file with eDeveloper 10, and that’s never been the case,” he says. Previously, “It looked like an Excel spreadsheet on steroids. It was a table you drilled down and through.”
This wasn’t something that could be easily checked in and checked out through a typical lifecycle development tool, Johnson says. “One of the main driving reasons for this was for version control and compatibility. But it also gives us some enhancements from a project developer standpoint, more reusability. . . .Instead of creating a single homogenous application, it’s more a repository of resources for composite applications.”
Other new features programmers can look forward to with eDeveloper 10 include: better XML integration through new XML schema validation functions; improved support for standards, including “across-the-board” Unicode support and bi-directional ANSI conversion; the new capability to re-compute Link operations quickly for data controls in a browser; and new interface controls like radio buttons, check boxes, tabs, MDI, and SDI.
The company also claims it will deliver “superior” event handling through new capabilities like defining control handlers on the fly; declaring data attributes to the engine; determining when to execute event handlers in the record cycle; and handling changing variable values.
Parties interested in participating in Magic’s beta program can contact the company through its Web site at www.magicsoftware.com.