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January 28, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 1:02pm

COMPUWARE TRIES TO DISPEL UNIFACE’S LACKLUSTER IMAGE

By CBR Staff Writer

Scrambling for a space in the overheated application development tools market, Compuware Corp has finally worked out how to sell its Uniface 4GL development suite – as part of a package with QARun, its testing tool, and Eco Systems, which can manage a Uniface application. Compuware has pinned its hopes on this ‘cradle-to-grave’ package to give it something to wave at rival companies including Forte Software Inc, which, it claims, leave customers to fend for themselves once an application is written. Compuware admits, however, that Forte is streets ahead in its image terms, known, as it is, as the shiny, happy, application partitioning company. Compuware puts the company’s lack of marketing down to its past success in the mainframe space, when everyone with a mainframe knew its automated testing products, and it didn’t have to lift a marketing finger. Now, though, you can expect a ramped up public relations effort under the leadership of Compuware’s Donna De Brodt who has been bumped up to director of corporate marketing, and will be based out of the company’s Farmington Hills, Michigan headquarters. Version 7.0 of Uniface is expected to ship this quarter. This will be the first major release since Compuware acquired the Dutch company of the same name in 1994. The main features of Version 7.0 are support for business process modeling, support for Web browsers and integration with its systems management products Eco Systems – no mention of generating Java byte code like its other rival Unify Corp can do with its Vision product. Compuware bangs on about the importance of business process modeling, which does little to dispel Uniface’s lackluster image. Compuware says that if you’ve got business processes modeled and want to change them, how does a Forte application protect itself from change? Although, that said, if customers are completely remodeling their business, and are not sure what kind of application they will end up writing in Uniface, its modeling capabilities will not stretch that far, and the customers will still need to splash out on a high-end modeling tool such as the one from Learmonth & Burchett Management Systems Plc.

Grand vision

Compuware’s grand vision is to make Uniface so intuitive that business users can tweak an application at runtime to meet their needs – say add in a new field on a screen – and bypass the backlog of the computer department’s ‘to do’ list. This functionality is set to appear in Version 8.0 of Uniface, codenamed Quantum which is still on track to ship later this year. Uniface cannot do the dynamic application partitioning that Forte is famed for – Compuware thinks dynamic application partitioning is nonsensical – any network manager worth their salt is not going to leave it up to an application to make its own decision on when to spread itself out over several pieces of hardware. This is because, explains Compuware, a machine may be slack for one moment but two minutes later, could get heavily hit when it sends out a batch of invoices. Compuware’s answer is to sell you EcoNet, a management tool which knows the profile of a machine over the last week. It knows who’s been using what server at what time. These statistics feed through to a human administrator, who can then do drag and drop partitioning of the application.

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