The rest of any Web application generated by JackBe is stitched together with many of these functions. Any programmer who has written software to generate software will understand how this approach saves bandwidth. Developers can spin up elaborate tables from a few library calls instead of writing endless lines of HTML tags.
If you remember doing programming when memory was expensive, you’ll appreciate the lengths JackBe’s creators went to squeeze out bytes. The pages, for instance, are specified by a single call to the Z function with a single string as a parameter.
There are also more specific functions for common problems. MY, for instance, takes a number and formats it with a dollar sign and two digits of precision. PN finds the parent node of a particular part of the document tree.
The result is a Web page that is more of a program than marked-up text. I think that JackBe is just beginning to explore how this can save features. The JackBe developers tell me that they’re constantly revising and extending the libraries to offer new widgets, and I predict that they’ll roll out some interesting ones. You can also extend the routines yourself, often in an object-oriented way, by defining new routines for jobs like event handlers.
The server-side of the JackBe development process runs in a Java servlet container. You install it by dropping in a WAR (Web Application Archive) file and then starting up the IDE by entering the URL for the file into IE.
There are some rough spots, however, where the code hung for a few seconds. This could be the fault of the browser platform, not of JackBe, but it’s difficult to know. Unfortunately, the AJAX platform is still rough and imperfect. But when the system ran smoothly, which it did most of the time, the applications I saw were as nice as the best client code.
Room to Grow
Nonetheless, I found the package incomplete in a few small ways. The project creation wizard, for instance, requires you to fill in many paths for files instead of doing it for you. This led me to mangle part of my Tomcat servlet container when I put in a wrong path.
This was easy to fix — I just deleted a few directories — but it hints that the tool isn’t ready for the average Web designer; a programmer needs to be in the loop. The tool may be ready one day for a nonprogrammer, though.
JackBe’s roughness is due to the company’s youth. The system isn’t available as a shrink-wrapped download; you must consume the training classes and technical support the company offers. I predict JackBe will eventually reach the point where the documentation and the polish are strong enough to carry a newcomer.
Ease of use (30.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
|JackBe NQ Suite 4.0||9.0||9.0||7.0||8.0||8.0|
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