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Seeking to establish a degree of competitive differentiation, Unify Corp coined the term RADD (standing for Rapid Application Design and Deployment). The idea was to emphasize the combination of development productivity with scalability that its Vision product was supposed to deliver. Predictably, RADD never made it over the first fence – even the analysts, ever hungry for new acronyms, did not pick it up. Anyway, Vision’s superiority speaks for itself. It is only necessary to read the specifications to see that it has almost everything the other second-generation client-server tools have, plus a couple of unique features that nobody else can offer yet. There are three particularly outstanding aspects of Vision: Combination of enterprise client-server with RAD, allowing complex and powerful applications to be defined and generated very quickly; The AppMan system management facility that automatically instruments Vision applications with over 400 management events and 140 performance metrics; and Vision/Web, which adds Web browsers as another optional client platform that can be mixed and matched with Windows, OS/2, Macintosh and Unix. A cynic might easily conclude that the market acceptance of software tools is inversely proportional to their merit. Although that would be overstating the case, there are a number of reasons why it holds a grain of truth. Powerful solutions are usually expensive, but that is just the beginning. They also demand up-front investment in training, planning, and infrastructure. Worse still, they can require a conceptual leap that most users are simply not prepared to make.

Unify is a perfect example of a company that has suffered from this syndrome. Despite the tremendous hype about the internet and intranets, most of the thousands of organizations implementing their own web sites are starting with the obvious (and easiest) parts – HTML coding and CGI scripts. The result is often a patchwork that more or less holds together under its initial workload, but has no chance of scaling up by one, two or even three orders of magnitude. Ironically, this is exactly what they will face if they become successful. It is only unpopular sites that do not have to worry about scalability. And yet there are products out there today – Vision/Web, Progress WebSpeed, NeXT WebObjects, ObjectShare VisualWave, and others – that deliver browser-to-database integration from day one. So far there has been very little interest in these comprehensive solutions. Perhaps this is because they are seen as old-fashioned survivors from the age of client-server. Or maybe it is because they need to be sold high, and too many organisations are still blindly delegating the choice of implementation tools to individual developers and Webmasters. Whatever the reasons, if Unify Vision/Web were a stock it would merit a strong ‘buy’ recommendation. It is grossly undervalued by the market, and represents a significant opportunity for anyone setting up an intranet or an electronic commerce site. For best results, Vision/Web should be evaluated in the broadest possible context, taking into consideration the total costs of design, implementation, and maintenance over a full life cycle. We do not believe that any other product available today can deliver as wide a range of valuable features, ranging from swift RAD timescales and strong team support to native DBMS drivers, transaction processing, built-in application management and automatic generation of Java. Of course, Vision/Web is not ideal in all circumstances, but as of today it represents the state of the art in web-to-database development, better than any rival offering.

This is an extract from a full analysis that appears in the Internet Tools Bulletin

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CBR Staff Writer

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