GeneXus Brings Web 2.0 Home with Version X
May 6, 2008 Alex Woodie
System i shops that use the GeneXus development environment from Artech were given a clear path to Web 2.0 yesterday when the company announced the release to manufacturing of GeneXus X, the 10th version of the popular 4GL tool. Now that two and a half years of development and testing are over, organizations can start taking advantage of the software to develop new applications using the latest Web 2.0 technology, or even retrofit older apps with the new screen style.
The folks at Artech, the Uruguayan company that has been developing GeneXus since 1988 (and which previously spelled its name ARTech), also see Web 2.0 becoming an inevitable part of enterprise software development. “They expect that user interface. They are demanding that type of application,” says Armin Bachmann, who works in support at GeneXus headquarters in Montevideo, Uruguay. “The user has so much power [that IT shops] have no other choice than to deliver that kind of application, or the employees will go away.”
GeneXus X–which previously went by the development codename “Rocha”–hides that complexity and enables developers to create Web 2.0 applications using the same set of GeneXus skills they previously used to create applications that were generated in the third-generation language of their choice, including RPG, COBOL, Visual Basic, C, C++, Java, and C#. Even better for System i shops is the fact that Web 2.0 applications generated by GeneXus X can utilize the DB2/400 database (although a different application server is required unless the customer chooses Java).
Many of Artech’s customers who are System i software vendors are very interested in the new Web 2.0 capabilities of GeneXus X, says Dane Drotts, president of GeneXus USA. “We still have quite a few customers that are green, mean, and lean, and all they do is generate RPG and COBOL code for their customers,” Drotts says. “But we’re hearing a lot of those customers saying, ‘Hey, we need you to help us move the application to Java, to Web 2.0, to show to our user base.’ Obviously, when users see it, they love it.”
Another key new capability that’s generating a lot of interest in GeneXus X is the integrated workflow. Previously, the company sold a product called GXFlow that its customers could use to model their business processes and create workflows. The developers at Artech say workflow will eventually be an indispensable part of application development tools, so it now includes that capability as part of the core IDE.
Integrating workflow into the IDE gives developers another way to make changes to an application, Bachmann says. “They don’t need to rebuild the application. They just make the changes [in the process modeler], and the application behaves according to the new flow,” he says.
Other new features of GeneXus X include support for full text search, wiki generation, and pattern-based development, as well as new data providers and data selectors.
The new release helps people in various roles to do their jobs better, says Gustavo Proto, GeneXus’ chief architect. “GeneXus X smoothes the migration to Web 2.0 by enabling application developers and UI designers to work together, in the same environment,” Proto says. “In fact, the whole staff (i.e. analysts, developers, UI designers, help writers, testers, etc.) has a set of GeneXus X features appropriate for their work. GeneXus X also provides version control features to track what, who, when, and why changes were made.”
The majority of GeneXus users are System i shops or System i software developers. For these customers to get the advanced Web 2.0 capabilities, they’ll need to adopt Java and install a Java Web application server, or employ a second application server on a separate Windows, Linux, or Unix box. Even if they adopt a separate application server, they can still use the DB2/400 as the back end database server.
GeneXus X was released to manufacturing May 5. Artech is currently offering generators for HTML, Java, .NET, and Ruby. The company will deliver generators for RPG and COBOL with another release in September, officials say.