Maturing Development and Management Tools

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The growing mainstream adoption of open source has spawned a number of more serious conversations over the last several years about business models. Particularly, what will work for creating successful companies and real dollars while adhering to an open source philosophy.

In the past five years, the arguments against taking open source seriously have largely been silenced as applications have been proven in production in some of the largest environments in the world (science, retail, government, etc..).

Open Sourcery has several threads that have explored the intersection of commercial software and open source, and by now most professionals are comfortable with the idea that one can profit by supporting and otherwise working in that crossroads.

This has also been a space to highlight commercial products built to service open source applications or stacks (bundles of apps like Apache/PHP/MySQL). A timely article from Computerworld (a frequent source along with eWeek that frequently profile the growth and high performance capabilities of open source, databases especially) shows the further penetration and acceptance of the most visible databases in the space – including MySQL and PostgreSQL.

It seems coincidental – however – two new management tools for working with these popular database solutions have emerged as well. AwareIM from AwareSoft seeks to bridge an enormous gap involving open source databases (including IBM’s more recently minted open source DB Derby).

The product provides a rich GUI development environment that seeks to hide nearly all programming and all database design elements. In place of these traditional steps to build a web application the company presents a wizard of screens to define business objects, attributes and rules that define how business processes work. In the background AwareIM grinds out table structure, code to execute the defined logic and lays out a friendly interface that can be customized further.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of AwareIM is the potential for use by savvy business users in addition to developers who will leverage it. There are three scenarios:

  • Developers will use it to save time in developing web apps for small and medium size companies
  • Developers will use it and then deploy it for larger enterprise solutions and train sophisticated business users on maintenance
  • Companies toying with open source and accustomed to GUI development (think Visual Studio and MS SQL Server – which AwareIM actually supports the latter) will use it to explore open source

Introduced to Open Sourcery readers late last year, Navicat has also built its business around the success of MySQL and advanced its management needs. The latest release this summer of Navicat 2005 reflects the products growing maturity.

Capable of running on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, Navicat has listened to its users and rolled out several new features. In particular, as a user of Navicat, I like the new SSH tunnel capability, as well as a View Builder, SQL Console and new synchronization tools for my OS X platform.

While the management clients are rich for Linux and Mac users, its Windows client by far offers the most premium features including import of Access and Excel files as part of a migration and a visual report builder.

A full feature matrix covering all platforms is on the Navicat site.

Blane WarreneBlane Warrene
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