Responsive Design, Node.js Top BCD App Dev Enhancements
May 18, 2016 Dan Burger
It’s really difficult to overstate the importance of application development to any organization. It’s a simple tool, but it needs to be the right tool. When done right, it’s crucial to business efficiency. Getting it right and keeping it simple is the target, yet somehow the aim differs wildly from the result. Shoot fast but shoot straight. Don’t just hit the target. Hit the bull’s eye.
BCD Software is one of several application development vendors in the IBM midrange market that can help application developers shoot fast and straight. The company has a new release of its desktop and mobile Web application development tool called WebSmart, which includes templates for creating PHP, RPG, and Node.js Web applications. BCD is the first of the IBM i application development vendors to offer the Node.js. IT Jungle reported WebSmart Node.js in beta testing two months ago.
BCD favors the use of templates to assist in the application development process by making it faster and more structured. The new release, WebSmart 11, also introduces responsive design, a term that describes how a single UI can change based on the screen real estate of desktop, tablet, and smartphone clients. Without the responsive design capabilities it takes separate development efforts to get applications that render well on large and small screens.
“The new templates make it much faster to develop responsive applications by generating one code base,” says Marcel Sarrasin, VP of corporate marketing at BCD’s parent company Quadrant. “Bootstrap, the most popular open-source responsive framework, was used to create applications that automatically resize to fit various screen sizes.”
Prior to developing with the Bootstrap framework, BCD used jQuery for the mobile perspective. Sarrasin says it’s not necessary for existing WebSmart apps to be migrated to the new framework, but it is recommending the new templates for new development.
“Although Node.js sounds like a new technology, it’s been around since 2009. We’ve seen the adoption of the technology on other platforms and we’ve seen big companies creating critical applications using Node.js. These are indications of the future for this technology. We feel the time is right,” Sarrasin said.
IBM began supporting Node.js on i 7.1 and 7.2 in November 2014.
A lot of free open source software is another reason for its popularity. Developers use the Node.js Toolkit for IBM i to leverage RPG programs.
Introductory pricing for Node.js eliminates the license fee, so customers will only be paying for support. The cost is $995 per year for a single seat, $1,495 for two seats, and $1,795 for three seats. Sarrasin says BCD intends to maintain this pricing until the software is enhanced at version 2 level. By doing this it is hoped that early adoption will be sparked and awareness will be raised.
Node is new, but all the WebSmart templates–for ILE RPG, PHP, and Node.js–have very similar functions. One difference, however, is that WebSmartPHP requires additional templates because of options related to multiple frameworks, object-oriented and procedural development choices, and options related to database choices.
The WebSmart versions in ILE, PHP, and Node.js each have seven functional templates and four possible themes. The responsive design capabilities are included in all three.
The interest in responsive design is attributable to the rise in mobile application development, according to Sarrasin.
“Although mobile may not be an active project [in the majority of IBM i environments], BCD finds it being asked about by many customers who are active in application modernization projects. One factor is because responsive design it is no longer a separate development process, Sarrasin says. He does note, however, that mobile apps are often different from desktop apps because they are used by different workers with different requirements. So it does take some additional development relative to the users’ needs.
“We’ve seen more active projects in the last year compared to the year before,” he says, while also noting the number of mobile on IBM i success stories posted on the BCD website has increased.
BCD also has enhanced its green-screen RPG application modernization tool known as Presto. This upgrade, noted as Presto 6.5, includes a new visual skin editor. Skins control the overall color theme of Presto-modernized green screens.
“Presto’s skins have always been completely customizable and we’ve made it easier to modify them,” Sarrasin explains. “The new skin editor in version 6.5 will make it much quicker for developers to apply changes to their Presto skin, all without coding any HTML or CSS.”
BCD announced the availability of WebSmart 11 and Presto 6.5 Monday at the COMMON Annual Meeting and Exposition, which is taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana.