Tibco makes AJAX development easier, more sophisticated with new release
The system is a complete set of GUI widgets that will run in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The completely browser-based IDE is written in the same set of widgets, itself serving as one of several very good examples of what the toolkit can do. There are panes within panes to hold the source code, and many of these panes come with multiple tabs, multiple views, accordion tabs, and even some graphs. All of this is loaded from an HTML file, not an executable.
The richness of the interface is surprising. It's easy to build resizable panes -- something that used to seem impossible to do with HTML, at least to me. In the early years, many of General Interface's customers were pharmaceutical researchers, and the company developed a number of slick tricks for fitting plenty of data into what is still technically just a single Web page. These pages can provide inspiration if you're trying to jam a large amount of data into one dashboard for your clients.
The Tibco product is also the most developer-friendly tool in the bunch. The main editing pane offers five ways to look at the current project. The first, of course, is the visual designer that shows the layout. The second displays the underlying XML. Many visual applications hide this information or at least make it difficult to see. General Interface brings it forward and even lets you edit it.
Although this feature is wonderful, it could be better implemented. The HTML comes from an automated algorithm that produces just one long string of tags, without any indenting. Yes, this indenting just gets in the way of the browser's parser, but it would be really handy for the human. A useful solution would be some sort of cross-pane selection. If you highlight one widget on the visual page, the corresponding HTML will be highlighted when you switch pages. This would really make debugging much simpler.
Still, these are minor complaints. It's clear that Tibco General Interface is one of the best ways to put a sophisticated user interface in front of people who use only Internet Explorer. The breadth of the widgets is quite nice, and the structure is solid. This review is based on an early release of Version 3.1, a product that will be the first that Tibco releases at two levels, developer and enterprise. The differences between these levels aren't set yet, but the developer version will be aimed at smaller shops without the need or budget for the standard product. This could bring an entirely new market for the toolkit because it's clear that AJAX will be a dominant part of the Web development world.
Ease of development (30.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
|Tibco General Interface 3.1||9.0||9.0||9.0||8.0||8.0|
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