by November 6, 2001 0 comments

RAD (Rapid Application Development) tools are one of the foremost reasons for a particular OS platform becoming popular or not. The ease with which a RAD tool can allow developers to create applications for a platform determines the number of applications written for it and therefore the popularity of that system. Windows has always enjoyed this lead due to the multitude such RAD tools–from MS’s own VB, to Borland’s Delphi, and others–available for it.

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Now this power comes to the Linux community as well. Borland’s Kylix Server Developer is an enterprise-level RAD tool for Linux-based on the powerful Delphi tool available for the Windows platform.

Kylix, like Delphi, uses Object Pascal as its programming language. Pascal, although not as popular as C/C++, is at least as powerful as the two and probably easier to learn and understand. The full package comes with a Quick Start Guide, Language Reference and a Developer’s Reference, along with some other charts and tools.

Installing Kylix is simple. Provided you have the dependencies mentioned in the ‘Readme’ installed beforehand, you won’t run into any trouble. A simple script walks you through the install process, and you don’t even require to be root to install. Once installed, start up Kylix and after a short delay (which occurs only the first time as it generates a ‘font-matrix’), you get to see the Kylix IDE. If you’re used to an IDE like VB or better still, Delphi, you’ll be perfectly comfortable with this one.

A toolbar on the top of the screen allows you to select from a variety of ‘components’ or ‘widgets’. Also, unlike VB, these are pre-organized into logical section in tabs, like common controls, data access controls, and dialog boxes. Click on the control you want to use and drag with the mouse on a form to its desired dimensions. A Property-explorer window on the side allows you to change the properties of the control as you wish. On running an application created by Kylix, it conforms to the look-and-feel of the desktop you are currently running.

To assign code to an event that can be triggered by a control, double-click the control and write your code in the editor window that opens. The code is written in Object Pascal. Creating an application is quick and easy provided you know the language. Even if you don’t, but have worked with other RAD tools, you’ll find the familiar IntelliSense-like technology that auto prompts you with control names, methods and properties as well as the associated parameters for a chosen one.
To start off a new project, you can use a pre-defined template. For example, you can use the MDI sample application to get a fully working MDI text editor complete with menus and toolbars and go ahead from this to customize the application. This application is also a good starting point for someone to start learning the basics of

If you have Oracle or some other databases, you can connect to them using the many data access components available and use SQL to retrieve data. You can also create Web applications in the form of CGI or an Apache Shared Module (DSO).
Other enterprise-level features include the ability to create servers and clients based on different protocols easily. These, too, require only a drag-drop, and minor coding to get up and running.

All-in-all, a powerful development platform for Linux that allows for rapid application development and deployment. Although, this might have a steeper learning curve than VB, it is much easier and intuitive than say using C/C++ to code for the Linux GUI.

Also as it’s a fully object-oriented system, a lot of functionality is encapsulated that you needn’t worry about while creating the business logic in
your application.

Vinod Unny is a technology consultant at iSquare Technologies

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