WaveMaker Unveils Visual Web Dev Tool and Framework

WaveMaker Software unveiled two new developer solutions this week: WaveMaker Visual Assembly Studio and WaveMaker Rapid Deployment Framework for Enterprise Web 2.0. The former is designed to provide enterprise departmental developers with a visual dev tool for building data-driven Web apps. The latter enables those apps to be deployed to industry-standard Java app servers.

WaveMaker is the new incarnation of ActiveGrid, a three-year-old company originally focused on assembling an open source deployment stack based on LAMP, as well as inexpensive and simple-to-use application runtimes, according to Todd Hay, WaveMaker's VP of sales and marketing. The company changed its focus -- and its name -- in November.

"We found, over time, that some of the technology choices we had made were not passing the grade with CIOs for deployment inside an enterprise," Hay said.

In 2006, the company began refocusing on what it perceived as a gap within the enterprise between the business developers, who are trying to build everyday productivity apps, and the CIOs, who need a standards-based architecture that they can manage and control.

One of Hay's customers put it to him this way: Central IT is focused on big, bet-the-business infrastructure projects that are going to solve all of the company's problems, take years of work, and never get finished. Meanwhile, the business teams are building temporary apps they plan to stand up for a few months just to get through one project, and they end up living forever.

"We could see that the business groups were increasingly frustrated over the inability of IT to deliver the applications they needed, when they needed them, and increasingly turning to tools that the CIO couldn't manage -- things like Microsoft Access, Oracle Forms and Lotus Notes," added Rick Saletta, WaveMaker's director of marketing and product management. "So you get more and more of this rogue IT being developed."

In helping CIOs "stop the bleeding" caused by what the company believes are thousands of these guerilla or shadow applications, WaveMaker found a new focus, and two guiding concepts: "Web Fast" and "CIO Safe."

Billed as "PowerBuilder for the Web," WaveMaker's Visual Assembly Studio (VAS) is a Web-based AJAX and Web development suite. The "Web Fast" toolset is designed for drag-and-drop assembly of Web apps using AJAX widgets, Web services and databases. The company claims that VAS accelerates app development by as much as 67 percent and reduces the lines of code written by 98 percent, when compared with applications built on Microsoft .NET. VAS is based on software acquired by ActiveGrid when it purchased the TurboAjax Group in September.

"We make that comparison because PowerBuilder solved this problem in the '90s," observed Hay, "when the trend was toward client-server. Nothing has come along since then for Web developers."

"No one is empowering those visual developers from the client-server days with a tool that allows them to get their application up on the Web," added Saletta. "And no one is bridging that gap and addressing the needs of the CIOs. There simply has been no alternative to the rogue IT."

The "CIO Safe" piece comes with the deployment platform. Web applications built with VAS can then be deployed with the Rapid Deployment Framework onto Java applications servers that are already part of the CIO's approved infrastructure, Saletta said, including Apache Tomcat and J2EE servers from IBM, BEA, Sun and Red Hat.

WaveMaker Visual Assembly Studio 3.0 is available now as a free download from the company's Web site. WaveMaker Rapid Deployment Framework 3.0 is available under commercial license.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].