Compuware CU2008 – Day 2

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Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

Day 2 of the Worldwide Compuware Uniface User Conference (CU2008; the agenda is here), for Compuware partners, with an all-day Masterclass on Day 3.

The Day 2 keynote, from Gerton Leijdekker (Usability Consultant and Software Developer, Uniface-Lab Compuware) and Thomas Stolwijk, Lead Software Developer and RIA project lead, Uniface-Lab Compuware) showed off its RIA capabilities well and seemed to highlight a change in direction for Uniface, as a result of Compuware’s recent internal reorganisation. Aad van Schetsen (VP Uniface) has a strong developer background and seems very enthusiastic about the RIA approach built on Uniface as a back-end, offering rock solid processing, security and so on. He sees this approach as offering minimal-risk business oriented agility through de-coupling the presentation layer from the processing logic. He thinks this is particularly appropriate to today’s post-credit-crunch environment—where companies are risk averse and need to do more with less, but are also increasingly focussed on business delivery and business agility. This fits well with the Uniface approach, as it has always played well to those interested in business productivity rather than technology for its own sake.

Van Schetsen seems to anticipate a decline in interest in Java programming (which may correspond to Compuware’s Development Product Line interest moving away from Java) and says that Uniface now has a lot more autonomy within Compuware, to let it promote its development vision. We expect a big marketing push on Uniface in 2009 and recommend taking a look at the public 9.4 beta, expected around January 2009.

Key aspects of 9.4 include a new Dynamic Server Page and true Ajax support but as Gerton Leijdekker, Usability consultant & 4GL developer, said “we do all the complex stuff”. The presentation side of things is pure Ajax and HTML but you only have to write in Uniface Proc (no Javascript)—plus a bit of standard HTML. However, things are a little different to earlier Uniface RIA implementations—there are no special Uniface tags and thus no need to use the built-in editor if you don’t want to. The difference from Uniface 9.1, which tried to integrate everything into Uniface, which didn’t always work out too well, is that Uniface 9.4 seems to build on “mashing up” Uniface with external presentation-layer stuff. In fact, any Uniface 9.4 RIA can be thought of as just another mashup.

The Compuware Uniface 9.4 Pick IT Up Music Shop is a Mashup

The devil may well be in the detail, but on the basis of these early demos, we were well-impressed. Uniface has the rock-solid support for business logic that a web application needs—but it doesn’t seem to have compromised Ajax-style presentation agility. We will observe the working out of Uniface’s new strategy with interest.