Tibco Apps Rich With AJAX

Software vendor Tibco released the first major update to its rich Internet application (RIA) developer tool since acquiring the technology last year, officials said this week.

General Interface 3.0 (GI 3.0), originally developed by a privately held company of the same name, was acquired by Tibco in October 2004 to round out its service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy at the presentation level.

Tibco develops business integration, real-time messaging and business process management (BPM) software targeting a number of industries to include financial services, health care, government, transportation, retail and telecommunications. Each industry can take advantage of applications tied to infrastructure databases that deliver desktop-style functionality over the Web.

The tool simplifies the development of rich Web-based applications using Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX).

While AJAX-style development is all the rage this year, there is a dearth of tools that lets less-experienced developers create Web applications that function in much the way as desktop applications.

GI has been on the market since 2000, long before the term AJAX was coined. But officials expect its new-found popularity to give the tool more recognition in the near future.

Kevin Hakman, Tibco director of product marketing, equates the new interest in AJAX with FedEx and the overnight letter; someone could very well have been providing overnight delivery before FedEx came along and made it a sensation.

“That experience of the next-day delivery package was so good it’s become the standard and I see that taking place here, too,” he said. “This is the vision of Web applications that people were talking about back in 1997.”

Officials point to a May 2005 report by research firm Gartner, which predicts 60 percent of new application development in 2010 will include RIAs; at least 25 percent of those will be primarily RIA.

GI provides a WYSIWYG interface for developers with drag-and-drop code snippets to add boxes, tabs, charts and other GUI components, as well as visual tools to connect to back-end servers and step-through JavaScript debugging.

Tibco added a number of improvements to GI 3.0, notably a visual binding tool for document-literal SOAP messaging. Whereas in the past developers would need to manually code the SOAP message, they can now drag-and-drop a visual representation of the data — like a ZIP code or city field — that needs to go into a component.

Other additions include hot keys, code completion utilities and new GUI components for 2D charts, editable grids and type-ahead combo boxes.

GI 3.0 is available today for large-scale businesses and ISVs starting at $25,000. A point upgrade to the development tool, GI 3.1, will be available in two versions: Professional and Enterprise. GI 3.1 Enterprise Edition will feature the full commercial license while the Professional Edition is a lower-cost version with peer-to-peer support features.

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