Gupta touts alternative to Java, .Net

Undaunted by the momentum of Java and .Net, Gupta Technologies in January plans to ship an update to its 4GL (fourth generation language)-based alternative, Team Developer 2005, which adds Linux as a deployment platform.

Supporting only Windows in earlier versions, the 2005 version of Team Developer also enables applications to be written for Linux variants from Red Hat (Profile, Products, Articles), SuSE, and Novell (Profile, Products, Articles), said Suren Behari, product manager for Team Developer at Gupta.

Gupta argues its 4GL system makes developers more productive than Java or .Net, citing examples in which Team Developer required about half as many lines of code as the big-name rivals. While most technology companies avoid using the word "proprietary," Gupta openly boasts of its product proprietary nature.

"The way the IDE is designed, we have a proprietary outliner that structures code," Behari said. "It allows you to collapse and extend different areas of code." The outliner features a tree-like structure for working on code that is similar to the Windows Explorer file system, he said.

Team Developer, with its use of the SQLWindows language, compiles down to the C++ language but hides the lower-level functions of C++, Behari said. With an installed base of 10,000 to 12,000 users, Team Developer also supports team-based development, featuring a project management system allowing developers to collaborate. "It facilitates the ability to check in source code, check out source code," Behari said.

A user of Team Developer 2005 listed its pros and cons.

"The good news is, they've done a great job creating a language in which you can do the whole job, 100 percent of the application, all the screens, all the reports, all of the pieces of the puzzle," said Donald Layne, vice president of development at Infor Global Solutions, formerly Lily Software. "The bad news is, their particular way of approaching it is the way you need to approach it."

The product requires going beyond the SQLWindows language in order to add flexibility such as adding a custom control, according to Layne. Infor Global uses Team Developer to develop its Visual Enterprise ERP system for discrete manufacturing, said Layne. Adding Linux support gives Infor Global portability if the company chooses to take advantage of that feature, he said.

Debugging improvements in the 2005 product also are worthwhile, Layne added. Advanced debugging is featured, including "breakpoint" window where developers can check values of variables, according to Gupta. Team Developer also ships with a development version of the SQLBase 9.0 relational database and users can develop graphical applications for Gnome or KDE (K Desktop Environment).

Other improvements in Team Developer 2005 include the following:

  • OLE DB enhancements for database connectivity, including the ability to select from a range of information from an Oracle (Profile, Products, Articles) database on an as-needed basis, to reduce overhead when moving from the database to the back-end application.

  • Enhanced Find and Replace, in which developers can search within a specific area of code to boost productivity.

  • Performance boosts in compilation.

  • Report Builder enhancements, including the ability to designate use of lower and upper printer trays.

Team Developer 2005 is priced at US$2,995, but the Linux version will be available for US$995 through a special promotion lasting through May 31, 2005.

The company is looking to offer a 64-bit version of Team Developer in the 2007 timeframe.

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