When it's time to develop your Web application, you have choices: You could roll up your sleeves, select your programming languages, pile references manuals on your desk, and begin the time-consuming task of building your application from scratch. You might take a shortcut and grab one of the many open source frameworks available, such as symfony or Zend for PHP programmers, Django for Python users, Ruby on Rails, and so forth. Or you might consider one of the many rapid development tools now available to the Web world.
I had a chance to test-drive five Web development systems that claim to significantly cut application development time: Alpha Software's Alpha Five 10; Iron Speed Designer 6.2.1; LANSA's LANSA for the Web 11.5; OutSystem's Agile Platform 5.0; and MLState's OPA (One Pot Application) 2.0 Beta.
Based on my testing, I can say that these tools provide a speed boost to development with features such as WYSIWYG prototyping environments, loads of prebuilt graphical components, and easy deployment. Importantly, some of the tools are specialized, designed primarily for constructing database-centric Web applications, but even those tools offer enough flexibility to create more generic apps.
Find out how the Web development tools fared in InfoWorld Test Center's review. (Please note that we did not score OPA 2.0, as it's still in beta.)