Cognos Software Inc, Ottawa, Canada has put its hands up and admits it got it wrong in the first release of its next generation application development tool, Axiant, two years ago. We didn’t get it right with the first release. The technology foundation in the repository area had problems and it had too many building blocks that ended up bleeding edge. Axiant was really a bit schizophrenic, says Patrick O’Leary, vice president of 4GL products. For example, according to O’Leary, the Windows- intensive technology that is provided in RealObjects was once part of Axiant 1.2. This technology in combination with a 4GL- based development environment didn’t work, so it was spun out into a separate product. However, this time round, with Axiant 2.0, the firm says it has solved the technology issues and focused Axiant’s ideology. Convergence is the key. Cognos has taken the 4GL engine of PowerHouse, its 20-odd year old 4GL, jazzed it up with improved functionality and integrated parts of Axiant 1.2 to create PowerHouse 8. Axiant 2.0 now takes the form of a workbench, essentially a visual development environment that plugs into the 4GL engine. On the ideology front, Axiant is no longer pitched as a replacement product for PowerHouse, but as a migratory tool for those clients that need to deploy applications across multiple systems and require a Windows front end.
Get at NT and 95
According to O’Leary, Axiant is to be marketed first to the firm’s claimed 12,000 user installed base as a means to get to Windows NT and Windows 95. The idea is to provide developers with the ability to import legacy applications, say running on Digital Equipment Corp VMS, living in flat files or written in archaic code languages, into Axiant. Here, the tool retains the business logic and recompiles PowerHouse access calls into SQL calls and creates Windows forms. Code conversions are also provided. Developers will have to go in and do some hands-on tweaking, but the amount will depend on the size of the application and the number of systems that need to be supported, says O’Leary. Axiant 2.0 ships at the end of April and costs $4,500 per developer on Windows 95 and NT. It can be deployed initially on HP-UX, Alpha VMS and Intel Corp NT server systems. A 2.0D release is expected in June, which will include support for Alpha NT, Digital Unix, Sun Solaris and DG-UX as deployment operating systems. Cognos is also working on Web browser support for clients. A release date has yet to be set, says O’Leary.