While many local companies have gained international credentials in the application development field, Cape Town-based Viewnetic is taking the world by storm with a new development paradigm.
"Traditional development products include an integrated development environment along with ready-made tools and components that developers can use to make their jobs easier," says Viewnetic technical director, Cedric Keown. "Viewnetic has advanced the concept of programming by building a complete development environment that runs from a standard browser."
Viewnetic technical director, Cedric Keown
Called Portico, Viewnetic's product provides a full development environment for creating Web applications, including preset components that can be dragged and dropped into the application - all running from the Internet Explorer browser (Version 5.5 and up, with a Mozilla version for deployed applications in the works). Developers have the full development functionality needed for creating complex Web applications, without the hassles of loading tools and data from a set of CDs on to their personal computer.
As with Visual Basic and other traditional development tools, once a grid, or drop-down list is dropped onto a form, Portico developers code against the properties and events associated with that component. Portico runs on CACHÉ, InterSystems' post-relational database with full data binding between components and the database.
Portico is installed on a server and requires less than 10 MB of space for the full package. Users simply point their browsers at the application and have a full Web development environment at their service. No additional components need to be added to the browser.
"Portico is not a Web page creator," states Keown. "It is a full, powerful development package. The benefit of using a browser means that developers can work on a project from any location that has decent access to the Internet.
"Because of this unique feature, Viewnetic sells Portico in two separate ways. For companies that want to develop their own applications but require the flexibility of browser-based access, Viewnetic sells Portico as a complete package. The company's consulting and service division, on the other hand, sells its development services to customers around the globe.
"Our development services are not sold in the traditional manner which would see our team do the work and then deliver a CD with the final product to the customer. The development work is done from our offices (or wherever the developers are), directly on the client's server. The source code and latest version of the software is therefore always with the customer and we can implement changes as required, from anywhere."
Viewnetic has already developed financial service and healthcare applications for clients in various countries around the world. An accounting package and a healthcare patient billing and administration package was designed for the local market while a trust fund accounting system is currently being developed for a client in the USA.
Another benefit to Portico is speed. "Portico was designed to allow developers to produce applications quickly," reports Keown. "The developer is free to focus on designing solutions that meet business requirements and the application does the rest, even taking over the task of scripting Dynamic HTML interfaces."
Viewnetic selected CACHÉ as its underlying database because the company wanted a database that offered speed and reliability right out of the box, as well as one that would support all the features and functionality a serious developer needs. CACHÉ's robust architecture, flexibility and the InterSystems approach to partnerships also played an important role in the company deciding on CACHÉ."
Developing a relationship with InterSystems was easy. The InterSystems team is as committed to seeing us succeed as we are," says Keown. "It would take years to develop a relationship as productive and supportive with any of the other database vendors."
Portico is sold on a per-developer, per-server licensing basis. According to Viewnetic, it represents a first in the development market as companies can hire world-class developers and retain all intellectual property without having programmers on site. The response to date from local and international markets bears out this sentiment.
For more information contact Christine Bergstedt, InterSystems, 011 324 1800, firstname.lastname@example.org cedric ketersys.com
; Cedric Keown, Viewnetic, 021 914 3950, 083 637 7474, email@example.com
; Renee Conradie, FHC Strategic Communications, 011 608 1228, firstname.lastname@example.org