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Left somewhat behind by the trendier multi-tier, application partitioning school of fourth-generation language companies, Compuware Corp is hoping to sidestep the competition by rejigging its Uniface 4GL development suite and repositioning it as an application assembly environment. The Farmington Hills, Michigan- based company’s taking its recent Uniface 7.1 release and extending support to non-Uniface components written in Java, C++, Visual Basic, Powersoft and legacy environments, including Cobol and RPG. The commercial reality is that we’re going to have to live with Visual Basic, comments Ian Meakin, product marketing manager for Compuware, we call it the mother-in-law syndrome. With this in mind, Compuware has based its component management facilities on a component signature repository where all components are registered, regardless of their physical implementation. In this way information about the call interfaces of each component, including operations (or methods), parameters and data types, is made available to developers. Compuware is betting that potential customers, who in the past might have been wary of buying into Uniface, will be persuaded by the company’s message that applications re-use will see a corresponding return on investment. The choice of development tool for component construction becomes a tactical issue – the strategic business decision is the choice of the assembly environment, explains Meakin.

Component architectures

Version 7.2 of Uniface, which is due to ship in the fourth quarter, will include both development and deployment support for component-based development. It will come with its own object request broker, called the URB Universal Request Broker, which will support component architectures including DCOM, CORBA, C++ and Java. Version 7.2 will also include a new tool called Assembly Workbench, enabling navigation and editing of components, component management facilities to aid in the assessment of the impact of change to component signatures or interface definitions, an object repository application programming interface based on the UML Unified Modeling Language standard to enable third party object modeling tools to read and write directly to the Uniface development repository, a late binding capability which enables component types to be changed at runtime and Uniface Building Blocks, a bunch of software components representing commonly used component templates and functionality, including application look, which Compuware will offer up free of charge for Uniface development environment licensees. Initial building blocks include technical key generator, permission system, log-in system, dynamic menu system, error and message handling, and caching mechanisms. 7.2 also comes with version 2 of Compuware’s WebEnabler browser access to application components residing in a variety of application and database environments. WebEnabler includes facilities for application objects built in Java, security functionality to support electronic commerce applications and local syntax and validation checks using Java and JavaScript. Prices start at $6,850 per developer license.

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CBR Staff Writer

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