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@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Zakia Bouachraoui, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski

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Where have all the 4GLs Gone?

Brad Feld recently wrote a blog post entitled, What Happened To The 4GL? In it, he describes the difficulty of working with today's web development frameworks:
This summer I spent some time playing around with Google AppEngine.... It didn't take long before I realized I needed to really understand how to program in Python to do anything.
People often ask whether Ruby on Rails is a competitor to WaveMaker. My response is that WaveMaker is for people who don't want to learn a new language to build web apps, RoR is for people who do.

In Proustian fashion, Brad looks at the new cloud computing tools in hopes of recapturing that sense of power that comes from working with a well-designed 4GL:
When I was playing with Google AppEngine, I kept waiting for the 4GL "aha moment." That's the moment I had using Clarion and Access where I realized how easy it was to do certain things. That moment never came with Google AppEngine - the deeper I got, the more confused I got.
This is the elephant under the table in web programming today - it is no longer possible for mere mortals to build basic business applications. Even formerly technical guys like myself and Brad are intimidated by the bookshelf worth of O'Reilly books you need to read just to get started with web development.

WaveMaker has a very strong 4GL pedigree and is funded by Mitchell Kertzman (of PowerBuilder fame) and Roger Sippl (of Informix 4GL fame). Our belief is that the time has come for a 4GL web development solution.

Ten years ago, there were loads of ways to build client/server apps easily - PowerBuilder, MS Access, Lotus Notes, Filemaker. None of those tools have made the leap to the web, leaving a huge market vacuum.

It has been so long since there have been decent tools for non-expert developers that people have literally forgotten what a 4GL even looks like. The best proof of this is the many comments on Brad's post by people who think that coding frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Django are reasonable substitutes for a 4GL.

This is not to slight Rails and Django, just to say that these products are targeting making hard-core developers even more productive. They are absolutely not appropriate for visual developers who don't want to do any programming in the first place.

Read the original blog entry...

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