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Applications development in one-tenth the time

How would you like to build full-fledged enterprise apps 10 times faster? That's a claim being made by Jeff Walker, founder, chairman and CTO of TenFold. Walker has been touting the merits of EnterpriseTenFold, an application development platform marketed by the company he founded about 10 years ago, but one that has made little market headway since then.

In the 1980s, Walker was senior VP of marketing and CFO at Oracle. He also designed Oracle's applications products and headed the applications division.

EnterpriseTenFold, Walker claims, "invalidates every other method of programming" and it's the first in a new class of software he calls "universal applications."

A developer can build an application in two weeks instead of one year, Walker says. "You can double the productivity of an application developer every year ad infinitum," he asserts. Walker made several similar claims in the space of a one-hour interview. Suffice to say that few of them would go unchallenged in a barroom on a Saturday night.

Unlike traditional approaches, where ill-defined business requirements frequently cause dev projects to spin out of control, TenFold's technology lets small teams of business and IT professionals design, build, deploy, maintain and upgrade apps with speed, quality and power, Walker says.

EnterpriseTenFold includes TenFoldTools, which are used to describe the application the end user aims to build; TenFold Dictionary, an RDBMS that stores and manages the application's description; and TenFold RenderingEngine, which renders the app a TenFold Dictionary describes.

"TenFoldTools let you describe your application by entering requirements," Walker says. "As you describe parts of your application, you can see and test them. Because you build an application by describing it, you have speed. It is much faster to describe what you want, than to design algorithms and then program and test them."

Because the application's description resides in a relational database, it's easy to change the way it works by adding transactions, changing its database design, describing connections to other applications and so on, Walker explains.

TenFold's rendering engine reads the application's description and renders it. "The word renders means 'makes your application run right now,'" Walker says. "Rendering does not generate code; it does not compile code.

"We understand the notion of rendering is new and foreign," he adds. "The best example of another rendering engine is a spreadsheet executable like excel.exe, which is part of Microsoft Excel. Excel.exe reads a spreadsheet description in an .XLS file and then renders the spreadsheet -- that is, it makes it run right now without code generation or compiling."

Naturally, all of this sounds too good to be true. "Skepticism is our number one problem," Walker admits.

TenFold has a PC-based version of EnterpriseTenFold called Tsunami on its Web site (http://tsunami.tenfold.com) that Walker says will prove to doubters that a user can build an enterprise app in just a few hours. By following a script, "anyone can build a complete, enterprise-scale CRM application that is like SalesForce.com, only better," Walker claims.

About the Author

Michael Alexander is editor-in-chief of Application Development Trends.

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