Review: TierDeveloper

TierDeveloper 4.0 Enterprise Edition
San Ramon, California
(925) 236-3830

TierDeveloper is a combined object-relational mapper (that is, it takes care of turning database rows into objects and vice versa) and application generator for .NET. I took a look at the high-end edition of the recently-released version 4.0; there's also a $595 Professional Edition. The difference is that Professional supports either VB.NET or C# while Enterprise supports both, and Enterprise supports more databases, application types, and customizations.

TierDeveloper is pretty simple to use. You start by creating a new project, and connecting it to a database. Microsoft Access support is new in this version, but you can also use DB2, SQL Server, or Oracle databases. Choose the tables that contain the objects, and the operations you want to perform, and TierDeveloper figures out the properties of its own abstract objects. Then you can generate and build a host of different things: the core components, a Web GUI, a WinForms GUI, a remoted GUI, and more. For turning a database into an application with one screen per table, things could scarcely be easier.

Besides Access support, some of the new features in 4.0 include:

  • The ability to define new objects in TierDeveloper and have it generate the DDL to add them to the database.
  • Custom handling for NULL values
  • Customizable GUIs for the generated applications via an XML file of metadata
  • Schema DDL generation so you can build a copy of the database for test use
  • HTML documentation generation

As with any application generator, you'll probably want to customize the end result before you turn users loose on it. However, the generated ASP.NET and WinForms applications are perfectly usable for database administration, and the underlying objects are robust enough to use wherever you'd like them. The quickest way to see whether this can be useful to you is to visit the online demos, and then download a sample copy. You get 30 days to experiment with your own database, which should be enough to decide whether the TierDeveloper approach makes sense in your own work.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy has been developing software for a quarter-century now, and writing about it for nearly as long. He walked away from a .NET development career in 2006 and has been a happy Rails user ever since. Mike blogs at A Fresh Cup.


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