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O'Reilly Open Source Convention
Sheraton San Diego Hotel, San Diego, CA
July 23-27, 2001

News Coverage


RAD Programming on Linux

Ray Lischner, Tempest Software

Track: Linux
Date: Friday, July 27
Time: 1:45pm - 2:15pm
Location: Harbor Island I

Rapid Application Development (RAD) means different things to different people. Fundamentally, though, everyone agrees that RAD is all about writing end-user applications quickly, cleanly, and effectively. Until recently, RAD tools on Linux were few in number, underpowered, and underutilized. Many attempts at RAD are little more than glorified GUI-builders, but real applications require real code. Borland's Kylix project brings RAD to Linux by combining powerful programming languages (Object Pascal and C++) with visual design tools and an object-oriented component framework. This presentation is aimed at experienced Linux developers introduces RAD, discusses when to apply RAD techniques and when not to, and delves into the specific aspects of RAD: visual tools, component frameworks, extensibility, and OO programming.

Some so-called RAD tools are mere GUI builders. Real applications are much more than a handful of widgets and windows. Some RAD tools advertise the minimal coding needed to write an "application." Real programs need code. The key to effective RAD is to let the tool do the tedious code so the programmer is free to focus on the core logic of the application. RAD tools can use three different techniques to alleviate the coding burden: visual design tools, reusable software components, and powerful OO libraries.

GUI Builders have been around for years, and they continue to be improved. For example, most visual design tools support the visual manipulation of non-visual components. Design-time manipulation of component properties is the mainstay of Visual Basic, Delphi, Java Beans, and more. The best RAD tools, however, go beyond WYSIWYG layout tools and use other visual aids for navigating complex window design, editing menus, working with database interfaces, and more.

Object-oriented techniques offer many opportunities for code reuse. RAD tools span the spectrum from the most basic level of having a large library of useful code, to reusable, object-oriented component frameworks. A RAD framework must be extensible, so you can easily add your own custom components.

At this time, the best RAD tools are commercial, but that is not an impediment to Open Source development. Borland supports Open Source development that uses its commercial tools, and this session examines the license issues.

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