Idera Bolsters Visual LANSA 15
May 13, 2020 Alex Woodie
Idera last month issued the first major announcement for its LANSA product lineup since it bought the application development toolmaker last year. With Visual LANSA 15, the company has delivered more than 500 enhancements, including a new API creation experience, native chart controls for Web apps, and a host of sample apps, among many other new features.
Before LANSA sold itself to Idera in January 2019, Visual LANSA was the company’s flagship integrated development environment (IDE) for creating modern graphical applications that run on IBM i, Windows, and cloud platforms.
While Visual LANSA users can get down and dirty with Rapid Development and Maintenance Language (RDML), the fourth-generation language (4GL) environment that has defined LANSA development for so many years, the IDE lately has embraced the “low-code” mantra and adopted the notion that developers should be shielded from the nitty-gritty details of programming by letting the IDE handle much of that grunt work.
Under Idera, the Visual LANSA IDE retains its low-code focus, but with some important caveats around customization of Web applications.
“With most low-code platforms,” the company says, “customization is severely limited and almost crippling at times. We feel a low-code platform should offer nearly the same customization as traditional coding. Visual LANSA v15 allows more customization and personalization by offering developers the tools to embed HTML directly into their application.”
APIs are another important element of modern applications, particularly for business applications running on IBM i and accessing the integrated Db2 for i database. With Visual LANSA 15, the company is giving developers the ability to create APIs, including all of the requisite schemas and parameter definitions, with a new drag-and-drop process, eliminating the need for hand coding.
It’s also easier for developers to integrate third-party APIs into their Visual LANSA applications by using one of the many code samples that Idera is shipping with the product. There are code snippets available for a host of popular services on the Web, including Amazon S3, the Google Geocoding API, Google’s reCAPTCHA, Google Translate API, OpenWeatherMap API, the SendGrid API for email, the Twilio API for sending SMS messages, and APIs for enabling single sign-on to Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
It’s common for IDEs to defer to outside tools for things like building charts for Web applications and dashboards. But with Visual LANSA 15, Idera is going “native” with its chart controls by bringing them directly into the IDE itself.
Occasionally, a Visual LANSA developer will need to reach into an Excel spreadsheet to grab some data, such as for testing a new application or running an application without an underlying database. With version 15, Idera is delivering a new method that simplifies the process of importing data from Excel into the LANSA Business Rules Engine. “Simply click the Import from Excel icon and follow the wizard, and in seconds a file will be created with the rows, columns, and data from your spreadsheet,” the company says.
While some shops will prefer an outside version control system, developers can use the internal version-control tracking system in Visual LANSA, which has been enhanced in version 15. Specifically, the new release adds the capability to create, checkout, merge, or rebase branches in the current repository, the company says. There’s also a YAML comparison tool that highlights the difference between changes with highlights and line indentations.
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The lack of training material has been a concern among some customers, Idera says. The company has taken steps to address that concern with Visual LANSA 15, which sports more sample applications and templates to help get developers started. The company has also created an “in-depth tutorial highlighting all aspects of creating applications in Visual LANSA,” it says. Lastly, it’s launched a new website called Learn LANSA that features learning materials, tutorials, and a way for users to interact with the community.
It’s all about getting developers the tools they need to build better applications faster, says Craig Trautman, the general manager of LANSA. “Our primary focus is delivering dev teams more intuitive, easier to use and faster to implement application development tools,” Trautman says in a press release. “Visual LANSA 15 does just that — reduces application development friction and gets products to market faster with more affordable maintenance.”
Last but not least, the company is offering free trials for Visual LANSA 15 in hopes of getting new customers hooked on the low-code environment. For more info, go to www.lansa.com.