mrc Unveils Software Exchange for m-Power Users
August 17, 2010 Alex Woodie
Development tool maker mrc made two announcements recently that should make its m-Power customers more productive. For starters, the Chicago company, which targets the System i platform with its Java-based development tools, launched the Project Exchange, a website where m-Power users can share their creations and download software developed by others. The IBM business partner also introduced a new AJAX screen designer that simplifies Web interface development.
m-Power is a model-based development tool that generates J2EE-based applications, like Web portals, e-commerce sites, executive dashboards, mobile phone apps, and business intelligence systems. The software, which has roots in mrc’s old 4GL development environment for the AS/400, allows developers to create new applications quickly by eschewing the steep Java learning curve in favor of a template-based approach. Developers simply plug-in one of the handful of pre-defined templates and components, adapt it to their needs, and point it at their Apache Web application server, and they’re up and running.
With the launch of the project exchange last month, the pool of potential starting points for m-Power programmers just got a lot bigger. It also made the tool instantly more valuable, not only for existing customers that spent the $10,000 or so for an unlimited m-Power license (subscriptions are available for less), but also prospective customers looking for a Web development tool for IBM i, Windows, Unix, or Linux systems.
As of Friday, the project exchange, which is located at www.mrc-productivity.com/mrcjava/servlet/CUSTOMERS.R00600s?run=2, had attracted about 13 contributions. m-Power developers who were considering building their own reporting template that uses the Google chart API, or were trying to figure out how to validate user input with an external SQL object, will be happy to learn that these challenges have already been tackled, and the results are available free.
Three types of m-Power components are available in the exchange, including templates, user defined functions (UDFs), and external objects. It’s not quite an “app store,” although templates are probably the closest thing to a full application available in the m-Power world. UDFs are programming routines designed to accomplish specific tasks, while external objects are designed to pull back-end business logic into m-Power applications.
Brian Crowley, mrc’s director of development, says the addition of user-generated projects will give m-Power users a treasure trove of new features. “The new project exchange increases m-Power’s capabilities by leaps and bounds,” he says.
The new AJAX panel includes many pre-defined features that should accelerate the UI design for m-Power developers. Among the functions now baked into m-Painter are: auto-complete for search terms; automatic validation in online forms; drop-down lists that adapt to current data in real-time; and cascading dropdown lists based on other input on the page.
The vendor says the new AJAX panel will result in more intuitive user interfaces, as well as better validation of user input. “This new AJAX panel brings some very advanced techniques down to everyone who uses m-Power,” Crowley says.