DataMirror Extends Transformation to Desktop

DataMirror Corp. has released a beta of a new replication and transformation technology that delivers real-time, updated data to desktop applications.

Codenamed BackDraft, the product connects business information from production databases, including DB2/400, to desktop applications via its integration of Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications.

Powered by DataMirror Transformation Server, BackDraft runs on an NT server, receiving and distributing information from DB2/400 as well as SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase and DB2 databases on NT, Unix and MVS systems, to desktop applications such as Microsoft Office 95 and 97, Outlook 98, Project 98, Visio 5.0, Autodesk AutoCAD and Great Plains Dynamics. Applications are updated from the database automatically as the database is changed.

Richard Roeder, product manager for BackDraft at DataMirror, says the new product is an improvement over OLE DB technology.

"When you’re connected over OLE DB, you still have to hit refresh whenever the data is changed. With BackDraft, as soon as the change is made on the AS/400, the change is sent to the spreadsheet. The information in the application is updated automatically as the data is changed in the enterprise," Roeder says. He says BackDraft also is more secure than OLE DB.

No Visual Basic programming skills are necessary for basic use of the product, though VB skills are required for higher-level customization.

"A majority of the usage of the product can be handled through the Subscription Wizard," explains Roeder. "It’s a GUI where people can just drag and drop how they want the information to be used. It’s very end-user friendly.

"Then as the technology gets adopted, people can build more sophisticated applications."

Though BackDraft leverages DataMirror Transformation Server technology, it goes beyond what the company’s bread-and-butter transformation and replication product can do.

"TS would do a great job of getting data to the desktop in a format determined by the sender," Roeder says. "Transformation on the target side would require heavy duty programming skills, but users require the ability to customize the data themselves. We wanted to give users that ability without having sophisticated skillsets. BackDraft allows them to do that."

The beta of the BackDraft client can be downloaded from the DataMirror Web site through March 15 at www.datamirror.com/backdraft. General availability is planned for the second half of this year.