Compuware takes on Java, .Net with Uniface

Bucking the established Java and .Net application camps, Compuware on Monday will roll out Uniface 8.4, an upgrade to the company's alternative development platform that features enhancements for Web services and SOAs (service-oriented architectures).

Formerly fitting into the same market space as traditional 4GLs, Compuware now sees Uniface as a unified development environment and as an alternative to Java and .Net. "We see ourselves as being a competitor to Java and .Net, and the difference is Uniface is very much a proven technology. It's been around for 20 years," said Adrian Gosbell, Compuware product manager.

Java and .Net are not being used much in true enterprise deployments while Uniface is being used by customers with thousands of clients accessing mission-critical, 24/7 applications, Gosbell said. "It's very easy for us to compete (against Java and .Net). We're very proven," Gosbell said.

"We've got the history and we know that's very, very important," he said.

An analyst said Uniface's approach still has a place.

"Over 200 new customers in 2003 and a 95 percent maintenance retention shows that there remains a strong market for Uniface amongst customers and alliance partners that do not want to convert to EJBs or C# as their primary enterprise-class application development tools, in at least the short-term," said analyst Michael Blechar, vice president and research director at Gartner, in an e-mail response to questions. "Uniface can coexist and be integrated with J2EE and .Net development -- and for that matter Compuware also has a Java tool in OptimalJ as a companion product to those wanting to transition over time from Uniface to Java."

"While I expect that the majority of enterprise/server-side development will become EJB and C#, for some companies the migration is years away," Blechar said.

Version 8.4 has Web services call-out functionality implemented through XML and SOAP that allows Uniface applications to consume Web services, the company said. Support in Uniface for provisioning and consuming Web services enables the platform to accommodate SOAs, according to Uniface.

"With the previous version of Uniface, 8.3, it was possible to take a Uniface service and package up that service so it was exposed to the outside world as a Web service," Gosbell said. "The difference now is it can now consume Web services from other technologies."

A service such as an insurance premium calculation can be exposed as a business service in an SOA environment, Gosbell said.

Also featured in Version 8.4 is enhanced real-time application performance tuning, simplified deployment, and maintenance via an updated deployment utility. Graphical controls have been expanded through inclusion of a command button, picture widget, and check box as options to Uniface. Usability has been improved through additions to the product's procedural code language. Performance of previously developed Uniface applications can be improved by recompiling them in Version 8.4, Gosbell said.

Additionally, Compuware has published a performance and scalability guide for use in design, deployment, and development phases.

The company in the second half of 2005 plans to release Uniface 9, featuring an advanced development environment and "hot" deployment, providing the ability to update, test, and deploy applications in real time.

Version 8.4 is available at the end of the month, with development licenses starting at US$4,000.

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