Friday, May 22, 2009

Oops, my inner nerd is showing

With the release of WaveMaker 5.0, I rolled up my sleeves, got out my pocket slide rule for moral support, and dove into tech-topia.

The result was two very geeky articles:
Both articles were well received - even the notoriously testy ServerSide crowd was well behaved.

The down side, of course, is that programming plays to my built in compulsive/addictive personality, so I find myself waking at 2am with my brain working on some minute programming problem in full throttle.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Missing Link - Data Access for RIAs

ZapThink just produced a good report on the state of Web 2.0 tools entitled "Evolution of the Rich Internet Applcation Market."

In the report, Jason Bloomberg and Ron Schmelzer of Zapthink highlight a critical gap in most RIA solutions: the inability to access data from within the UI. They then point to this as a major source of competitive advantage for Adobe:
"Adobe stands alone as the only vendor who offers a commercial, RIA-specific data access product."
It is probably not completely fair to expect Zapthink to include in last week's report a product that was released last week, this is exactly the problem that WaveMaker 5 solves with Enterprise-ready Data Widgets. In fact, the similarities between Adobe and WaveMaker's solutions is startling:

Comparison of RIA Data Frameworks

The Zapthink report concludes by saying that the most attractive market opportunity is not for stand-alone RIA libraries but for full RIA development enviroments like Adobe LiveCycle, Microsoft Silverlight and WaveMaker.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Five Free Mashup Tools You Should Know About

Mashups is a pretty broad term. A good definition for a mashup tool is a solution that allows developers to combine interesting data and then visualize that data through a web application

Usually, mashups are web applications that can be created quickly using standard web services (e.g., REST) and components (e.g., Widgets).

There are three kinds of Mashup tools: front end, back end and integrated. The differences are:
  • Front end mashup tools: these tools help build web front ends like dashboards using widgets/gadgets and little to no programming (iGoogle, PageFlakes)
  • Back end mashup tools: these tools combine web-accessible data and services into more useful web services that can be called easily using a REST-ful interface (Kapow, Yahoo pipes)
  • Integrated mashup tools: these tools make it easy to build end-to-end web applications that link web widgets to data and services.
When evaluating mashup tools, you need to think about what kind of mashing you are trying to do:
  1. Do you want to create a visual dashboard from existing widgets? Try a front-end mashup tool. These tools make it easy to create a personal dashboard that tracks your stocks, local weather, the time in 51 timezones and the current price of titanium.
  2. Are you wanting to turn web-accessible stuff (like ebay auctions or linkedin contacts) into a web service API? Try a back-end mashup tool to get at data programmatically that you otherwise have to do by hand (and mouse).
  3. Do you need to create an end-to-end web app like a dashboard or simple business portal? Try an integrated mashup tool to build applications quickly and with minimal programming. Integrated mashup tools are effectively the modern version of MS Access for the web.
Another factor to consider is whether you have to download and install anything to use it. Mashup tools can be purely web-based (like Yahoo pipes or PageFlakes), purely download (Open Kapow) or available both as a download or hosted (like WaveMaker and IBM Mashup Center, both of which are hosted on Amazon EC/2).

Here are five free, open source mashup solutions you might want to check out:

iGoogle - Front End Mashup Screen Builder Tool

If you are looking for lots and lots of widgets, look no further. iGoogle has tens of thousands of gadgets (many of the most popular ones NSFW, but that's how it goes). Try iGoogle here.

Open Kapow - Back End Mashup Service Builder

The web is a wonderful place to find information, if you are a human and have a lot of time. Getting programmatic access to data on the web is a completely different story (wouldn't it be nice to see which of your favorite restaurants has a table open at 6 tonight automatically?) Kapow is a web-based tool for creating "robots" that gather data on the web and return the results as a web service. Try open Kapow here.

Yahoo Pipes - Back End Mashup Service Builder

Pipes is a web-based tool that allows developers to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. It is not as full-featured as Kapow, but you can try it without having to download anything. Try Yahoo pipes here.

IBM Mashup Center - Integrated Mashup Builder

Mashup Center was written with the non-developer in mind. That design objective increases the number of people who can use the tool, but limits the complexity of what you can build. In general, Mashup center requires that developers create a set of enterprise widgets (using IBM's iWidget spec) . There is also a cloud version of Mashup Center, but it requires that you have your own Amazon account set up. Try Mashup Center here.

WaveMaker Studio- Integrated Mashup Builder

WaveMaker provides a fast and easy way to build web applications. It targets Java developers who want a RAD GUI builder as well as novice web developers who want to build web applications with minimal learning curve. You can try the cloud version of WaveMaker here, or try the WaveMaker download here.

Monday, May 04, 2009

WaveMaker 5 Cuts Java Web Development Time 90%

Today, we launched version 5 of our visual development platform for Java and web developers.

Java developers need the equivalent of MS Access for building Java Web Applications. Currently, a Java developer wanting to build a web application faces a huge learning curve, to say nothing of the coding burden.

WaveMaker 5 addresses the need for easy to use tools for building Java Web Applications. Wavemaker 5 introduces Enterprise-ready Data Widgets. WaveMaker generates these custom components automatically when a developer connects to a database.

With Enterprise-ready Data Widgets, WaveMaker reads the database schema and creates a widget for each table that the developer can drag and drop into an application. Enterprise-ready Data Widgets can display table data as an Ajax grid or as a form with automatic data validation and built in create, update and delete capabilities.

WaveMaker makes it possible for a developer to create a database-driven web application with literally three clicks:
  • Click 1: connect to the database. WaveMaker studio automatically imports the schema and creates an Enterprise-ready Data Widget for each database table.
  • Click 2: drag Enterprise-ready Data Widget from the studio palette to the application canvas
  • Click 3: press Run to perform a test run of the application in a local Tomcat server. The final application can deploy to any Java server.
Try it today! You can download WaveMaker and try it yourself here.