Part 1: Uniface as a platform for DSAAS

Inspired by the kickoff and the book “What would Google do?” I have some ideas on what we could do if we would really try to reinvent ourselves. So here is the first of a series of columns (well two for a start…)

Uniface as a platform for DSAAS

In this age of collaboration it seems a bit silly to create something on your own PC and then submit it to a website where others can pick it up, download it, and continue working on it. This is considered modern or at least up-to-date. But what can we expect in the future? Could we develop applications for the internet on the internet?
Browsing the internet you can find many tools that already bring parts of the development process online. You can for example look at:
  • GatherSpace (requirements)
  • Basecamp (project management)
  • SourceForge (open software development initiatives)
  • Beanstalk (version control)
  • Lighthouse (issue tracking)
All of these are beautiful Web 2.0 applications.
Besides a trend towards online tools, there is also a trend to provide developer with standard components. Look at what, Google and Amazon offer.
The only thing missing is a real development tool; it seems the world is almost ready for it. When you have an online development tool on the web for building web applications, you have created the foundation for Development Software As A Service.
Uniface consists of a kernel, written in 3GL, and a development environment (IDF) that is largely written in 4GL (Uniface). And because large parts of the Uniface development environment are written in Uniface, you could also rewrite it as a Uniface web application.
Compuware could do this rewrite, or it could be done as an open source project or in another collaborative way together with the worldwide Uniface community. Around the world there are plenty of people that have replaced parts of the IDF with their own version, although usually still client/server. This could be a way to achieve something truly new and out-of-the-box.
Of course there are some issues to overcome. It probably won’t be that easy the make an online screen painter. And maybe putting the debugger online will be a bit difficult. And the Uniface Proc language has to be extended a bit so all development features of the kernel are accessible. Many already are through the $ude function so that can not be too difficult. And of course you would need access to a hosted database, like already offers to its partners.
But when we achieve this, it becomes possible to build Uniface web applications on the web without any software on your PC.
You might ask yourself how Compuware can make money in this model. The answer is surprisingly easy: the Uniface kernel is still used and that is what we really license end sell. This also assures that our customer applications remain stable: it doesn’t matter how their Uniface application code was created, when the kernel can compile it, it will run.
And there are more options for making a profit. We could get in touch with venture capitalists. They come in contact with a lot of startups that have the need for a large web application in there business model. We can explain to them that they should use Uniface as a development platform. Maybe even offer it to them for free. When they go live they could be charged for runtime licences. If one those startups turn out to become as successful as Amazon or eBay this could mean a highly significant number of people in the world will be using a Uniface application!
Stop dreaming and let Uniface rock IT !
To all the technical people in this community: can you help me make a list of all technical changes Uniface needs to make this possible ?


Theo Neeskens
Solution Architect
Uniface Solutions
Compuware B.V.
Hoogoorddreef 60, P.O. Box 23199
1100 DR Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Tel.: +31 (0)20 – 311 88 05 Fax: +31 (0)20 – 311 88 01
Mobile +31 (0)6 50 68 55 04

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