GeneXus Refresh Targets Mobile Apps, Cloud Deployments
April 17, 2012 Alex Woodie
Artech last month launched a new version of its rapid application development toolset, called GeneXus, that delivers new capabilities to deploy user interface apps to mobile devices based on the Apple iOS, RIM Blackberry, and Google Android platforms. GeneXus X Evolution 2, which supports the IBM i server through generation of Java, RPG, and COBOL, also features support for deployment of applications to the cloud.
Artech is a creator of fourth-generation language (4GL) tools that was founded in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1988 to support IBM‘s legendary AS/400 server line. While the bulk of Artech’s 6,500-plus customers are Latin American, a good number of U.S. firms and software houses have been, or are currently, users of GeneXus, including RJS Software, Software Information Systems, Mize Houser, MaddenCo, and PayPlus, among others.
A lot has occurred in the IT world since then. Specifically, the mobile world has exploded, and so it is no great surprise that GeneXus X Evolution 2 features numerous enhancements aimed at enabling the company’s development tools to work with the new generation of smart phones and tablets.
With Evolution 2, GeneXus now includes native mobile application generators that support all smart phones and tablets that run on the Android, Blackberry, and iOS operating systems. The company says the native generators eliminate the need to create and maintain separate user interfaces for each targeted device.
The company has also updated its Web generators to support the latest HTML5 and CSS3 standards, which enables compatibility among the different Web browsers used across mobile devices, tablets, and full PCs. The Java, .NET, and Ruby Web generators were also enhanced to support HTML5 and CSS3.
This release also features what Artech calls a “click to cloud” feature. This feature makes use of an Amazon cloud environment that Artech makes available to its customers. (Microsoft‘s Azure cloud is also an option.) This is meant more as a means for prototyping and testing new mobile apps, not for running production software, and it’s only available with apps created with the Java, .NET, and Ruby generators. But it is an interesting addition, and one that will give developers quick feedback on their new apps.
Beyond native mobile support and cloud deployments, GeneXus X Evolution 2 brings several other mobile benefits, including: hooks for integrating social media into mobile apps; streamlined mobile login and role-based management through the GeneXus Access Manager; support for pushing updates to all mobile devices; support for multimedia and multiple languages; and access to the GeneXus online app market.
The booming demand for mobile devices among corporations fueled Artech’s mobile enhancements. “During the last quarter of 2011 tablet sales exceeded the number of desktop PCs sold,” Nicolás Jodal, vice-president and co-founder of GeneXus International, says in a press release. These figures are evidence of “the magnitude of the revolution that is under way.”
GeneXus X Evolution 2 supports this revolution, Jodal says. “A new type of application will be developed for smart phones and tablets, just as it happened years ago with PCs, which brought along applications different from those developed for mainframes,” he says.
Other big improvements with in this release include an enhanced workflow modeler in GXflow, which is one of the components of the GeneXus suite. According to GXflow product manager Eugenia García, the workflow modeler now supports the symbols established by the Business Process Modeling Notion (BPMN) 2 standard. Support for the XML Process Definition Language (XPDL) standard also allows more sharing of process flow diagrams made with other tools.
The GeneXus Access Manager (GAM) is also new. According to García, GAM gives developers the capability to build authentication controls, session verification, and access control into GeneXus applications (including mobile apps, as mentioned above). “It also includes a built-in possibility for authentication with Facebook and Twitter users,” García says.