Friday, 10 October 2014 02:13

Progress makes progress with new code


Progress Software's developers have written more new code in the last year than they did in the previous five.

Progress Software has had a very productive year, according to chief product officer and CTO John Goodson (pictured), who told attendees at the company's Exchange conference that it has produced more new code in the last year than they did in the previous five years, including the creation of two new products from scratch.

The company also made two major acquisitions - Node.js cloud platform provider Modulus and consulting services company BravePoint.

A key goal for the coming year is to help its partners and customers take their existing software forward rather than having to restart their development efforts.

"There are lots of lines of ABL out there," he said. (ABL is Advanced Business Language, the language for creating business applications in Progress's OpenEdge database.)

"You can use what you've already built," he explained, for example keeping the existing business logic but adding a mobile interface.

Progress provides a clear path for its customers and partners, Mr Goodson said, one that incorporates contemporary application development; deployment on public, private or hybrid clouds or using traditional on-premises infrastructure; even more ways of incorporating applications with external data sources; and managing business logic and business rules.

OpenEdge 11.5 will be out by the end of 2014, incorporating a scalable app server "that honestly rocks when it comes to performance and memory usage," he said.

And in 2015 the focus will be on user experience, "making it really simple to build beautiful applications."

This will be achieved in part through the delivery of the results of Project Sparkle, which vice president of user experience and design Arin Bhowmick described as Progress's re-imagined, next-generation product experience.

The goal is to provide a consistent, contemporary, simple cross-platform experience to improve productivity and user engagement.

Components include Theme Weaver (predefined, customisable themes that can be applied to applications), Rules Builder (to allow domain experts to create business rules by using a drag-and-drop interface, or in more complex cases through a spreadsheet-style interface), mobile design patterns ("Lego blocks to build a holistic experience"), and Progress Marketplace (an app store), Mr Bhowmick said.

Page 2: But wait, there's more!

Mr Goodson went on to describe other developments planned for 2015.

For customers and partners developing mobile applications (and these days, who isn't?), Progress will provide integrated web and mobile app development facilities, an integrated mobile debugger, a library of backend services such as push notification, and innovations in data access for mobile devices (current standards were designed for the client-server era).

More generally, Progress will build on its unique ability to connect cloud and on-premises databases "without punching a hole in the firewall" to other on-premises data sources, provide end-users with self-service access to the data they need, and continue to deliver best-in-class performance.

Application templates will be added to multiple products, along with a visual designer and a prototyper to simplify application development, and customisable development and runtime environments will mean users won't be restricted by design decisions made by developers.

Finally, Mr Goodson promised there will "major headway in 2015" in application lifecycle management.

CEO Phil Pead said "I really love investing in our R&D... No one knows our products better than we do."

"We're trying to make it really easy for people to do the things they want to do," he added.

While Mr Pead expects the company to grow organically, he noted that 21,000 startups have already received venture capital funding this year. So "there are some really cool ideas" out there that Progress might seek to acquire, though the company has no specific targets at this time.

Disclosure: The writer travelled to the Progress Exchange conference as the guest of the company.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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