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Servoy Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Bob Cusick

Related Topics: Java Developer Magazine, Servoy Journal

Java Developer : Article

Case Study: Java and the Mac

It all started with the boss out of Dilbert

This is the story of a Mac application developer (okay – it’s about two of them) who set out on a quest to find an application development tool based on Java so his boss would let him develop on the Mac platform, which he loved. There was only one catch – he had to find a tool that was fast. Traditional Java programming was going to take waaaay too long to convert the internal custom programs that had been written in an old 4GL. But the boss still wanted the excellent user interfaces that he was used to – because our hero was good on the Mac and could make the screens look “pretty.” If possible – the boss wanted the impossible – make the application run on a desktop AND over the Web – “just in case.” Here’s the story of our intrepid hero and how he searched, and found, a way to meet all the “Dilbert boss-like” requirements.

John Allen, a researcher at Stanford Medical Center, used to use 4GL environments to assist the research divisions at this well-known university. Stanford Medical is one of the most advanced research facilities for oncology (cancer), and with the cutting -edge research it does, there’s no standard software package that can be used. The oncology unit’s only solution was code-it-yourself. 4GL worked well for a long time, but a couple of key areas started to become problematic. 4GLs in general don’t scale very well, aren’t very secure due to proprietary security systems, and worst of all don’t run very well over the Internet. Stanford, with over 200 buildings, uses the Internet as its LAN. Essentially this means the applications it uses must run secure, with easy deployment, and have excellent Web capabilities. Another issue is that it needed to access multiple databases, another problem for propriety 4GL tools – which often have their own databases built-in.

Because of these challenges, Stanford decided that the 4GL would have to be switched to Java, which would deliver all it needed; however, it turned out that programming in Java was much more complex and much more time-consuming (of course!). After trying some projects in 2003 with the then-promising WebObjects (a Java environment from Apple used among others for the iTunes store), it became evident that something else was necessary, and John Allen found it after he came in contact with Servoy. Servoy is a Java-based environment that lets the application developer use pre-built scripts and write in Java.

More Stories By Bob Cusick

Bob Cusick, managing director of Servoy, USA, has one of the oldest blogs on the Internet (started in 1994). He has been writing business applications for over 15 years, using popular 4GLs, Oracle, HTML, and Servoy. He was the charter technical editor for FileMaker Magazine and speaks at developer conferences all over the world. Visit his blog at

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