Vision Jade Java Tool Makes Jump to Server Side

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Using Java to build server-side components for use in a traditional client/server model remains an elusive goal for many organizations. Java development tool vendor Vision Software (Oakland, Calif., has rearchitected its application development tool to generate server-side code, and thinks the product may be a solution for companies striving to develop client- and server-side Java application code.

This month the company starts to ship Vision Jade 4.0, a follow-on to the debut version of the product that was released less than a year ago. Vision Jade 3.x took a rules-based metaphor for application definition, and then generated Java code for deployment on a client machine, but also supported that application by generating triggers and stored procedures for the database that were deployed on the database server. In effect, most of the business rules captured by the tool were converted into the rules employed by the DBMS.

"Now [the rules] run as Java components on the database server," explains Mike DeVries, vice president of marketing at Vision Software. He says one of the key benefits to using Java components as opposed to stored procedures or triggers is that Vision Jade objects now can interface with other non-Jade objects through the CORBA interface. "With CORBA, we can integrate into transactional products like those from BEA [Systems Inc.] and Inprise [Corp.]," explains DeVries. In the future, Vision Software plans to add the capability to generate Enterprise JavaBeans-compliant components.

To access data on NT systems and on other server platforms, Vision Jade uses an interface called eXtensible Data Access (XDA). The XDA layer uses interfaces that enable XDA to access ODBC, JDBC, OLE DB and other data sources.

One of Vision Software’s claims is that its product enables developers to focus on business rules instead of the details of coding, and thereby delivers a time-to-market advantage over traditional tools. The company claims a tenfold reduction in the time required to build and deploy a project.

"It definitely gave us a productivity gain, but to say it’s one time or 10 times – it would be hard to say that," explains Steve Rovell, director of business development for consulting and programming services company Dynamic Consortium Inc. (East Hanover, N.J.).

Dynamic Consortium has been using Vision Jade 3.x since the product was launched last year, and has found that making major changes to an application after the first development pass is one of the tool’s major benefits. "We can change things at an unbelievable rate," Rovell explains.

While developers at Dynamic Consortium have not yet had firsthand experience with version 4 of the product, Rovell notes, "The only thing that changes in this version -- you’re still entering your business rules the same -- [is] you now have the business logic server. Everything else remains the same."

"They’ve actually added things we didn’t expect to see in this release, such as the partitioning of some of the rules [such as] being able to put referential integrity on the database [and] put different rules in different places. To my knowledge, that was not something we expected [Vision Software] to do in this release," continues Rovell. "In our eyes, this is a quantum leap for them. This whole logic server thing puts them ahead of everything else."