The past week has been a busy one, here at RemObjects. On Tuesday, we shipped our new “Spring 2010” releases, updating our entire product suite. We also started work on three major new projects that will significantly shape Data Abstract over the coming year.
Let’s start with a quick look at the “Spring 2010” releases. On first sight, this round looks like a minor update – and in many ways it is, as a large portion of the past product cycle has been concentrating on QA and documentation (which is making great strides in the wiki, i must say – kudos to the entire team for keeping up with their documentation writing). But we also shipped a few great new features and key technologies that will play an important role moving forward.
Firstly, there’s the new RemObjects Script for .NET that Carlo talked about the previous week. Right now, RemObjects Script is is shipping as a standalone library product (like its close sibling Pascal Script for Delphi, and like Internet Pack, it ships free and with complete source, and is available in our public SVN). So that alone, i believe, is pretty cool – but RemObjects Script fits into a greater plan, and that is the expansion of Business Rules Scripting in Data Abstract.
A little known and often overlooked feature we have had in Data Abstract for Delphi for a long time is the ability to define business rules inside the schema, to be run on the client. Not really meant to enforce security, but more to provide a better client experience, the idea was that constraints and business logic could be specified – using Pascal Script – right inside Schema Modeler, and clients will retrieve and run these rules automatically, and would always have the latest set of rules, without needing to update the client .exe.
Server side rules can be used for the actual enforcement of rules, making it possible to replace a lot (if not all) of the code that currently makes up a common DA server. Client (and shared) rules can complement these to enhance the local editing experience, by “enforcing” adherence to rules while editing data, without requiring a roundtrip to the server for final validation.
This DA Scripting feature is in the works now, and will ship for the various editions over the remaining course of the year, starting with Data Abstract for .NET in May.
Next up, we shipped the first release of Relativity. Relativity is our new standalone Data Abstract application server, replacing the aging (and Delphi based) DAServer.
The idea behind Relativity is that the vast majority of Data Abstract servers don’t really need much custom code (beyond business rules), yet the common Data Abstract approach today is to create a custom server .exe that needs to be built, deployed and maintained. With Relativity, this can now be a thing of the past, and you can deploy Data Abstract services in a ready-made server application, simply by uploading the appropriate .daSchema file.
Relativity is based on Data Abstract for .NET, but it ships with all three editions of Data Abstract. This means it gives Delphi developers the chance to use .NET drivers and the advanced server-side functionality such as DA SQL, without needing to purchase (or learn to work with) DA/.NET. It also allows Mac and iPhone developers to create and host servers (since we don’t ship a server library in DA/OSX).
And of course Relativity will also take full advantage of DA Scripting, starting in May.
In addition to these to “big ones”, we’ve also shipped a range of smaller new features and enhancements.
Internet Pack for .NET has been extended with a native client implementation for LDAP, which Carlo also blogged about before. We use LDAP a great deal internally, and this new client class makes it easy to build LDAP authentication into your RO/DA servers (or any other applications, of course). In fact, Relativity ships with a default LDAP Login Provider that is based on this implementation.
Data Abstract for .NET now provides the ability to expose data via the REST protocol, which makes it very easy to access data from non-DA client applications, for example from client-side AJAX based web sites. REST is one of many features we have added over the past year or so to enable better accessibility from web clients (another notable one is support for JSON messaging in RemObjects SDK), and we’ll be blogging and writing more abut this.
Our Xcode integration has been extended by new project templates that really make it easy to get going with Data Abstract or RemObjects SDK for the Mac or iPhone. These templates were created based on a lot of custom code i had written while implementing our internal Bugs 7 client, and they should provide a great starting point.
The last important change i want to highlight is that the entire range of products for .NET is now compatible and integrates with the new Visual Studio 2010 (based on the current Release candidate, although we expect no problems between now and the final release of vs2010 in April).
Ok, so i mentioned work on three new major features has started this week, as well. What are those? The first one, of course, is the new DA Scripting support i mentioned above.
The second new feature is one that we have been planning for a while but are finally getting around to for this time, and that is a brand new “New Project” template architecture for both Delphi and .NET. The current templates are pretty server-focused, and don’t make it very easy to create different client types. Our new templates will be focused around ann the various client applications you might want to create (WinForms, WPF, Gtk#, Silverlight, Monobjc, ASP.NET, VCL, UCL, and so on), combined with a great integrated wizard that will allow you to either create a new server project to match, or connect your client to an existing (custom or Relativity) server.
The third new feature, which i am most excited about, is to round of our Mac development story to allow for pure Mac development of DA applications. We have the library to build great clients on Mac, iPhone and iPad. We now have Relativity to host DA services on a variety of server platforms. What’s missing, and what we’re working hard on for the May release, is the tool chain in the middle – a Schema Modeler for Mac that will enable developers to design and test their schemas, for Relativity deployment, right in their Mac.
Stay tuned for a lot more talk about all three of these topics, over the next three months. In the mean time, go and check out our “Spring 2010” releases, available now!