Sunday, October 01, 2006

IBM alphaWorks Drag-n-Drop Web App Builder

Over the years I have seen a number of tools/technologies that promised the ability to build applications without doing any coding. Just drag this and click that and you have a fully functional program. Unfortunately, the promise always far exceeded the product. The closest thing we've had are the Borland tools (i.e. Delphi, Kylix, J Builder) and the Microsoft Visual* tools (VB, V .Net, etc.). You can click and drag your way to an interface and output but you still had to manually glue it all together with code. However, there's a new tool that looks like it will fulfill the promise.

IBM alphaWorks, a little known division of IBM that has been carving out new technology and creating tools for over a decade, has recently started providing Services. One of the services is Web Relational Blocks. From the site:
Web Relational Blocks (WebRB) is a browser-based visual editor and run-time environment that enables developers to visually assemble Web applications without adding any imperative code. WebRB is made for developers of "enterprise" Web applications: multi-page applications, containing non-trivial GUI (graphical user interface) and business logic, whose data reside in relational databases.
They have a demo up where you can try it out. If you are interested in web app development or in need of an Enterprise RAD tool then you owe it to yourself to take WebRB out for a spin. You can build your own apps or import example ones to see how it works. While the interface of the tool and the output app are a little clunky and rough, the functionality is there. I'm sure that once it gets settled the alphaWorks team will pretty it up and give it a nice shiny AJAX-ified GUI.

All in all, WebRB has the potential to greatly impact the world of web application production.

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