Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Making the World A Safer Place with uniPaaS

I always enjoy seeing innovative uniPaaS software applications, especially those that are used by first responders to make our world a safer place. The mi-Stock application by Magic Software business partner M.A.G. Integration is a great example. mi-Stock was designed to meet the needs of security and fire departments in today’s fast moving world.

mi-Stock is an asset management system for fire departments. Firefighters rely on mi-Stock to confirm with complete certainty that they have all the assets they need, where they need them in order to serve and defend those whom they are called to protect. In the process, it is delivering time and cost savings as well. In between calls, mi-Stock helps those who manage assets knowing what has actually been used for past events, how much should be reordered, how much it is worth and where everything belongs once received. Taking inventory is faster and easier. Accounting discrepancies are eliminated by using the mi-Stock application. From a management perspective, accurate and reliable data is accessible in real time to assist in decision-making.

In addition to the long list of features that are include in mi-Stock, there are additional modules that can be added such as the new mi-Stock Mobile application for real-time field asset management and the Maintenance Management Module. M.A.G. Integration is also very agreeable when customization is requested for unique processes and requirements.

This is only one example of the excellent solutions available from M.A.G. Integration, a Magic Software Partner with years of experience delivering solutions for customers of all sizes.

To try uniPaaS for yourself, sign up for the uniPaaS Jet download program.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Magic Software Enterprises: Riding the Magic Wave Into the Cloud

If you have been paying attention to the results of Magic Software Enterprises (NASDAQ:MGIC) on the Nasdaq Exchange this week, this month or this year, then you’ve noticed the exuberance shown by the markets towards the makers of uniPaaS, an emerging cloud-enabled application platform. Remarkably, uniPaaS is still relatively unknown in the marketplace. It is as if we have been engaging in underground programming and underground marketing. For this reason Magic Software’s Regev Yativ, CEO of the company in the Americas, has been pushing a new idea: uniPaaS Jet. You’ve probably seen the download “coming soon” banner on the Magic Software website or brief mentions of uniPaaS Jet on our blogs. You may even be involved in our beta test program for uniPaaS Jet.

One senses that with uniPaaS Jet we are going to take our long history of underground programming and turn it into a viral, programmer driven marketing engine. Underground programming conjures up quite a different image from a name like uniPaaS Jet that invokes images of high flying aerial acrobatics. uniPaaS Jet creates single user applications with all the powerful capabilities of our full-featured uniPaaS application platform. But stay with me for a moment. As more and more developers download uniPaaS Jet and begin creating free distribution applications, the name will penetrate further and further into the marketplace.

There are lots of good single user applications that developers may want to create. In fact, the most commercially successful application software programs ever are basically single user applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. But the focus of uniPaaS is more along the lines of a business application.

So who are these underground programmers with uniPaaS Jet going to be? Members of the existing Magic development community? Yes, in some cases. But many who will be creating all these single user applications are younger developers seeking to get noticed. These young underground programmers will take Magic Software up into the atmosphere like a Jet.

So what will these applications actually do? Everything from managing your passwords to organizing your investments. One can easily imagine a program to help artists catalog their works, a sort of personal digital portfolio that tracks the business side of being an artist. An application like this would need to track when a work was created, to whom it was sold, derivative works, numbered prints, etc. On the reverse side a collector may want a digital collection catalog as well. When was it purchased for how much, who is the artist, when was it liquidated from the collection, for how much, to whom, auctions, dates, prices, etc.

When creativity is unleashed, good works ensue. This is only one of the tracks that Magic Software Enterprises is following to ride the Magic wave into the clouds. Stay tuned. There will be plenty to see in the coming days.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Denali "uniPaaS" Doesn't Look Treacherous At All

The Denali Pass leading up to Mt. McKinley in Alaska is known by mountain climbers for its treacherous slopes. But when Microsoft announced Denali there was no fear in the uniPaaS development community.

To no one’s surprise, the news came out today at the PASS Summit in Seattle that Microsoft has released a preview of the next major release of SQL code named Denali. Once released, this new version of SQL Server will replace SQL Server 2008 as Microsoft’s premier relational database server product. This is an important announcement if for no other reason than the fact that Microsoft SQL is the most common SQL database and ranks third after Oracle and IBM in sales revenue. One senses that the actual release date is rather distant as Microsoft has been mum on that question.

The new features that Microsoft is touting for Denali include the “Apollo” column store technology to speed database queries; the “Crescent” database visualization and presentation solution; the “Juneau” single development portal for data and application developers; and the SQL Server “AlwaysOn” feature which is an analysis, troubleshooting and configuration solution designed to reduced database downtime, increase performance and solve other problems.

All of this seems likely to remain transparent to the uniPaaS developer and application users will undoubtedly notice performance and reliability improvements but not much else. It should be noted that uniPaaS has high speed native gateways for MS-SQL, Oracle, DB2, etc.

The uniPaaS application platform allows developers to quickly develop SQL applications for business data processing. uniPaaS allows for both deferred and physical transactions to the SQL database. With batch tasks physical transactions are the default whereas with online transactions deferred transactions are the norm. But the developer has the power of choice on the preferred method.

With deferred transactions in an online program, the developer can choose to defer the transaction for the entire task or record by record. There are also options for nesting of deferred transaction and for a deferred transaction within an active transaction.

When a uniPaaS developer selects to begin deferred transactions “before task prefix” they are deferring the entire task. If you defer the transaction “on record lock”, then the deferral is on a record-by-record basis. The transaction begins when you lock the record and you have options for when that happens. Record locking strategies can be set as desired. You can choose before record prefix, before record suffix or before update. Each of these lock the record for successively shorter durations but also have increasing levels of record exposure where an earlier lock may have prevented the situation that record locks are designed for in the first place.

On the other hand, there are numerous situations where transactions and locking aren’t needed at all, the most obvious example being when all you need to do is view the data. Also, remember that transactions and locking on a record-by-record basis is going to require more processing time than at the task level. And with batch transactions, you have an intermediate option to define a group, such as every 100 records or every 1000 records.

Of course the options for dealing with transactions in uniPaaS for SQL databases just barely scratches the surface of all the nice data-centric application development capabilities that uniPaaS provides. The data view repository, data models, SQL functions and data discovery features of uniPaaS could be a discussion unto themselves.

As uniPaaS is increasingly viewed as a mainstream .NET development platform with cross-platform capabilities, I suspect many of the Denali users will be drawn to uniPaaS for its rapid development capabilities and reputation for rock-solid reliability.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Programming Through a ViewFinder

Last night I attended a Chris Trapper concert in the backyard of Brian Pitoniak, one of the best uniPaaS pitchmen I know. Trapper’s lyrics are poetic but accessible, his acoustic guitar sounds like three people are playing it and his singing lives up to the old cliché: "his voice is his instrument" as he moves between expressive highs and lows.

During the first encore he performed Ocean View. Leading into the song he explained that it was inspired by an experience at a Fourth of July fireworks show. He was on a friend’s deck overlooking the water and closer to the fireworks than he had ever been before. The light reflecting on the water was an experience of a lifetime. But he noticed another man with a video camera filming the entire fireworks show from start to finish. This other man watched the whole show through a viewfinder so that he could “relive an experience he never really had in the first place.”

For some reason this reminded me for a fleeting moment of my article on The Futility of Coding where I discussed Don Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things which suggests that the principles of good design that you need are 1) a logically consistent model, 2) ability to see what you are doing, and 3) clear feedback between actions and reactions in a manner that provides continuous feedback. The man videotaping the fireworks failed on all three counts in designing his own experience. Watching fireworks through a video camera lacks logical consistency, it impedes your ability to see what you are doing and it breaks the feedback loop between you and the experience.

The situation is much worse for traditional computer programmers. You type text into an editor all day long in the hope that someday you will get to experience the software you are creating. There is no immediate connection between the creative process and the created experience when you use standard methods of line-by-line programming. I guess this is true of a lot of human endeavors, you can’t build a house and live in the house at the same time. I guess that’s the really cool thing about live music: the moment of creation and the moment of experience are completely synchronous.

So uniPaaS is a lot closer to a live music performance when it comes to computer programming. In uniPaaS Studio you can run your program at anytime and see it working. There is no intermediate compile, link and load nonsense. Developing in uniPaaS is a pseudo-live experience, not quite synchronous but certainly not without a very strong and instantly accessible feedback loop. Some call this iterative software development and an application platform like uniPaaS is ideal for agile development methods.

So if you want to try it out just sign up for the uniPaaS Jet download. If you want to buy it, call Brian Pitoniak. I’m sure he can set you up. (949) 250-1718 ext. 232.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did you vote for your favorite Governor?

Vote uniPaaS: A Development Environment with Extensive Resource Governance

Today was Election Day for the next Governor of California. As I write this, I do not know yet who won the election in the contest between former Governor Jerry Brown and eBay pioneer Meg Whitman. Whether discussing public policy or software development, governance is important.

In software development, good governance helps you meet challenges in managing resources and artifacts. A developer needs to keep track of all sorts of resources including variables, forms, expressions, models, formats, messages, programs, Web services, etc.

In most IDE’s, developers have to decide on artifact identifiers which must be unique, and once defined they cannot be modified. This forces extremely strict guidelines essentially putting the developer in a straightjacket. It also involves a lot of creativity and forces developers into their own fantasy world. This aspect is difficult to automate while maintaining program legibility. It is also common that naming conventions change as projects mature and grow, and the ability to implement new artifact naming for existing applications is a very rare luxury.

With the uniPaaS application platform, a resource and artifact governance framework is built-in, with highly automated artifact management. Developers do not need to provide resource identifiers but only resource names (descriptors). Resource names can be modified anytime, and any modification is propagated wherever the resource is referenced. This enables much easier resource management and easy maintenance of very large projects.

Furthermore, all the resources of a uniPaaS project are maintained in an integrated set of repositories, facilitating the automation of their creation and management. In addition, a number of third party tools such as Magic Optimizer are available to optimize and document these.

Another important aspect of the uniPaaS governance framework is the program transparency and legibility. Artifact descriptors can be as meaningful as necessary and can include any type of character. Coupled with standardized program structures, they make programs much more legible and maintainable even by developers who see the program for the first time.

Leveraging Magic Software’s rich experience with metadata driven development, the uniPaaS application platform provides abstraction capabilities that facilitate the design and development of complex applications and encourage resource reuse.

The development paradigm is declarative, event driven and service oriented. It is also a unitary one, meaning that the development process of RIA or Fat-Client applications is the same – there is no need to develop separately for a Fit Client, since the platform abstracts the Client and Server partitioning. Fitness is an important consideration in governance.

By the time you read this, you will probably have heard the news as to who was elected to succeed the very fit “Gubernator” Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. One thing is for sure at this moment, you cannot go wrong when choosing uniPaaS for application development and deployment.