BCD Delivers Major Update of WebSmart ILE
November 13, 2007 Alex Woodie
System i shops that would like to build applications that pull data from non DB2/400 sources have a new way to do that thanks to Business Computer Design Int’l, which launched its latest WebSmart ILE development tools last week. With WebSmart ILE version 6.6, developers can pull data from SQL Server and MySQL databases, as well as DB2/400 databases, and still run their Web application from the comforts of the System i.
BCD has been very active on the new product front of late. Just two months ago, you will remember, BCD started selling WebSmart PHP, a new release of its flagship development environment that uses a series of templates and wizards to guide users through the process of developing PHP applications, and that generates PHP code that can be deployed on i5/OS, Windows, Linux, or Unix.
Now BCD is releasing WebSmart ILE version 6.6, which came out of the same year-long development effort as WebSmart PHP and offers some of the same benefits. For starters, there is the cross-platform database option, which gives WebSmart ILE users the capability to connect to Microsoft SQL Server databases and MySQL databases residing on Windows, Linux, and Unix servers. BCD also has streamlined the creation of database connections by using storing-connection information in templates that can be called by multiple programs as needed.
Another feature in WebSmart ILE that’s similar to what’s found in WebSmart PHP is “intelliprompting,” which saves programmers time by showing them all the ProGen Macro Language (PML, the C+-like language used within WebSmart) commands that correspond to the first few letters typed by the programmer. For example, if a programmer types the letter “g,” all functions starting with “g,” like “get” or “getparm” appear on the screen, along with a descriptive line for each function that shows them parameter types and return values.
But perhaps the most significant new feature in WebSmart ILE 6.6 is an integrated HTML editor. Previously, WebSmart users had to supply their own HTML editor, such as Dreamweaver or Frontpage, and make sure that the back-end development matched what was seen on the front-end. That required a lot of work.
By building a WYSIWYG editor directly into the product, a lot of time and hassle will be saved, according to Duncan Kenzie, chief technology officer for BCD. “The visual editing features now incorporated in WebSmart ILE produce clean, lightweight HTML that conforms to the latest standards. System i technicians can focus their skills on business logic rather than design to achieve the best productivity on every single development effort,” he says.
In previous years, BCD sold two versions of WebSmart: WebSmart ILE for generating CGI Web programs that execute on the System i server, and WebSmart Java Servlet Edition (JSE) for developing cross-platform, Java-based applications. Now that BCD has caught the PHP bug, it’s refocused its efforts on the PHP and ILE WebSmart versions, and dropped the JSE edition.
But the PHP and ILE versions are more similar than dissimilar. During an interview conducted this summer, Kenzie explained the significance of the similarities. “One nice thing about how we did the PHP product was we didn’t have to create a completely separate product,” Kenzie said. “We built on the ILE product. We basically replaced all the guts of the code generation and code editing, and then we brought in all the PHP functions and that kind of management and an FTP tool and all that. That was all new for PHP. But a lot of the core stuff was already there for the ILE product. That’s one of the reasons we were able to come to market with a strong product in the timeframe that we were, because we didn’t completely reinvent the wheel.”
As of the end of July, BCD had been planning to release the new shared PHP-ILE features in WebSmart ILE at version 6.5, which it had hoped to deliver by the end of September. But plans change, and BCD elected to keep WebSmart ILE in the oven just a little longer and add a few more features, such as the visual HTML editor. As a result, WebSmart ILE comes out as version 6.6, just in time for Thanksgiving.
WebSmart ILE version 6.6 is available now. Licenses range from $5,800 to $11,500. For more information on WebSmart ILE, WebSmart PHP, or BCD’s other complementary products–Clover, Nexus, Catapult, and SmartCharts–visit the company’s Web site at www.bcdsoftware.com.