Feeds

What makes a 5GL?

Impossible, but ...

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Comment From time to time vendors in the application development space have claimed 5GL (5th generation language) capabilities. If you think about this for a moment you will realise that this can't be true. The idea of GLs is that each is an abstraction of the former, so we had machine code (on which I cut my teeth as a developer); assembler; third generation languages such as COBOL, Java, C++ and so forth; and finally 4GLs (now sometimes referred to as ABLs-advanced business languages-as 4GL seems to be out of fashion).

You can't get a further level of abstraction than a 4GL so there can't be such a thing as a 5GL, just as you can't abstract further than meta-meta-metadata (which is what high-end repositories provide).

So, if you can't get beyond a 4GL, what can you do to a 4GL to make it a quantum step forward compared to current 4GLs, even if it isn't actually a 5GL?

One possible answer is that you could build a data federation engine into the development environment. This would allow you to create applications that accessed diverse, heterogeneous data sources. Now, data federation has typically been thought of as being used for EII (enterprise information integration) and the premise has been that it is about queries. But a database look-up is, from a theoretical perspective, just a query, even if it is going to be used for a transactional application, so supporting data federation within a development environment sense. Indeed, it is easy to see how such an approach could be used for building MDM (master data management) applications, for example.

So, is there anybody actually doing this? Well, as you might guess, yes. A small UK company called Abbro Interactive has a tool called Abbro (now in version 3-it has been in use for some seven years), which does exactly this. You can go to the company's website and take a look at the facilities provided but the key to note is that this is a 4GL with extras that, in the case of federation, includes the ability to reverse engineer existing databases to create database views that can then be merged or joined, and caching capabilities so that reading the same data from these sources does not mean repeated database access.

The product is based on its own scripting language which is interpreted dynamically at run-time by the Abbro engine. It has to work this way because it is intended that applications will be event-driven, so event exits may occur at any time. Note that this facilitates the deployment of workflow as well as alerts, notifications and so on. It includes the ability to scan documents and populate forms therefrom, support for bar codes (and, at least in theory, RFID tags) and GPS messages so that you can determine the locations of things.

As I said: a 4GL with extras.

However, you can't buy Abbro as a product: at present all you can do is to have the company build an application for you using Abbro (based on a proof of concept, if required), which should be significantly faster (in terms of delivery) and cost less money than would normally be the case. Once you've got the application you can customise it but the underlying logic will be developed by Abbro Interactive for you. The company does have one package built on Abbro, for export documentation, but its potential uses are much broader than this. The company is considering how it might make use of channel partnerships but however good the product is, we cannot expect to see widespread deployment while Abbro itself remains the only company doing core development work.

Copyright © 2007, IT-Analysis.com

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
Lotus Notes inventor Ozzie invents app to talk to people on your phone
Imagine that. Startup floats with voice collab app for Win iPhone
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.