Profound Nabs Patent for Browser-Based Development Tool
April 1, 2014 Alex Woodie
A round of applause is in order for the good folks of Dayton, Ohio–not for the University of Dayton’s impressive run in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament, although they do deserve a nod. No, the midrange server community should be impressed with the patent that was recently issued to the Dayton-based application modernization software company Profound Logic for the innovative way it built an IBM i development tool that runs in a Web browser.
Development tools are normally thought of as being too memory intensive or bulky to fit within the relatively narrow confines of a Web browser. The amount of data that’s required to be manipulated and the highly interactive nature of a development session normally mandates the use of a full PC-based desktop program instead. When it was absolutely necessary to have this capability in a Web browser, compromises were made with the visual interface. For similar reasons, applications like word processing, spreadsheets, database administration, photo editing, and computer aided design (CAD) have typically been delivered as full PC-based desktop programs.
But Profound CEO Alex Roytman and the other smart folks at Profound wouldn’t take no for an answer. They pressed ahead and figured out a way to drive the application development paradigm into a Web browser. The company delivered such capability with Genie, its on-the-fly Web enablement solutions for IBM i 5250 screens.
On March 4, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Roytman and company patent number 8,667,405 B2, for “Browser-based development tools and methods for developing the same.” The patent covers the Web-based Visual Designer tool that Profound includes in its Genie and Profound UI products.
According to the USPTO entry, text of patent 8,667.405 B2 reads: “The interface can enable users to manage massive amounts of data in one browser view, with capabilities to search, sort, graph, and edit data. In addition, the interface can allow users to design browser applications or browser application components, such as data listings and data forms. Currently, no other software or tools exist that allow computer users to manage massive amounts of data in one view within a browser interface. Furthermore, no other tools exist that allow developers or end-users to interactively manipulate the interface presented to them in a browser, and then export or publish it for use in a browser application.”
The Visual Designer tool is unique in that it allows users to customize the look and feel of the screens directly from within those very screens. That’s an important distinction from using desktop tools, because it’s often difficult to do the little things, such as aligning buttons and borders, within a desktop environment. It seems a simple matter to say that it’s more efficient to develop or customize a Web-based application directly within that Web-based application. But there were technical hurdles to overcome. Profound overcame them, and has the patent to prove it.
“We first conceived this technology because we wanted to come up with an easy way for RPG developers to design Web interfaces for IBM i applications,” Roytman says in a press release. “We came up with an idea to put the development tools in the browser. The benefits of this development environment include the ability to see exactly what the application will look like once it is rendered in a browser, as well as ease of deployment.”