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March 7, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:33pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Synon Corp, Larkspur, California, last week rolled out the promised Windows NT/BackOffice generator for its Obsydian application development toolkit (CI No 3,036). The company says the ability for developers to write an application once and deploy it on several platforms is what sets it apart from the competition. Obsydian 2.5 will now generate code for Windows NT as well as the AS/400 and HP-UX platforms already supported. Not only is Synon dispensing with the other Unix ports it had originally planned, but even those ISVs using the HP-UX engine can only target the Oracle 7 database. Synon says there are two reasons why it hasn’t done more Unixes. First it couldn’t get the engine to spit code for more than one Unix and it didn’t relish the expense of doing separate engines for each flavor. Given the amount of fuss AS/400 maven Synon made when it launched Obsydian in summer of 1994 – a lot of stuff about it being a cross- platform second generation general purpose object-oriented tool a la Uniface and Forte – maybe we could all have rested easier if Synon had done a bit of homework on what being a Unix player actually implied. Second, Microsoft Corp offered a group of enginners to do an NT engine. Synon says it would do other Unix engines if there’s demand but can’t see it materializing; read, better take the Microsoft shilling than none at all. It is, however, writing a Java generator which it will annnounce by year-end and ship early 1998. It says Obsydian will then be able to generate applications that can be distributed to browsers. An interesting side note: Simon Williams, Synon founder and until recently technical director, quit that capacity last month, though he remains a board member. Williams left in 1991 to set up a small London-based start-up, Dysys Ltd, which actually developed Obsydian, a tool Williams always claimed was meant to be a pragmatic implementation of the promise of object-orientation. Williams and Dysys were folded back into Synon in 1994. This raises some interesting questions about what Synon now thinks Obsydian is for. Synon, still privately held after 14 years of existence (it was founded in London, UK, in 1983, moving its headquarters to the US in 1991), originally targeted AS/400 VARs and developers solely, then tried to ramp up its professional services arm via Obsydian and a related development methodology to sell direct to corporates, and now seems to have decided NT VARs are the answer, presumably.

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