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If you think ‘hey, this is a strange posting? Where is the technical stuff?’, you are right. Most of you don’t know who I am. My name is Peter Lammersma. I am an entrepreneur and work with Uniface since 1996. Uniface was my employer from 1997 to 2001. The reason I am starting to blog here, is because I am worried. In this first blog posting I will try to explain why. I asked Uniface BV (the company) to give me, although I am not employed by them, permission to write this blog on Uniface.info. Because I believe that we are the solution. As you might know, I love Uniface. If there were ‘I love Uniface’ coffee mugs, I would drink my coffee out of it. Every day, really. If there were T-shirts, I would take good care and give it a special place in the wardrobe. This feeling I have since 1996. Twenty year ago I swore that Uniface would be last software development tool I would ever use. As an entrepreneur for many years I am busy with several businesses, a few IT related, most of them not. And Uniface? I tried to escape, but she is always returning on my path. And believe me, I am more experienced with Uniface than I am with English :). Now I am 45 I dare to admit, I like building software. To be honest, I don’t have a very objective point of view comparing Uniface with other tools. I am not interested in other tools, as long as Uniface serves my needs. And it certainly does. Don’t you agree? Proven every day when we develop and maintain the software for our customers. With a minimum effort we produce highly effective applications. I believe this is called the return on investment. This is a very important business indicator. Every rational thinking decision maker can calculate and decide to use this wonderful tool forever! I certainly would. But, I have terrible news…. There is something wrong. I am worried and I want to share my worries with you. Lack of Eagerness I just realized that I am still using Uniface 9.6. While I should be interested in the new mobile features in 9.7. Wait, let’s skip 9.7. I should have downloaded Uniface 10, from the first day it was available. But I did not. Somehow Uniface 9.6 has everything that I need and I am not eager enough anymore to learn new stuff. Have you already downloaded version 10? Or do you, like many, work in a version 9 in a way you used to in the previous versions? And you know what worries me most? We don’t seem to care. Where is that New Business On the other hand, why should we use Uniface 10? Because it’s highly productive? The redesigned GUI? It’s not really important, is it. We all work like we did in Uniface 7. Sure, we use some of the new functions or statements, but in the end we try to hold on to what we once learned and used. And why should we. New business is rare. Building or buying, the oldest question in software. When an organisation decides to build software, they will choose a sexy software development tool. Rather than proven technology with a huge install base. A game changer is always nice to talk about in the businessclub. You never hear someone say: ‘I choose this product because my dad used it in his business twenty years ago’. Despite all commercial activities, most of us are stuck with the maintenance of the current applications. No need for new stuff. So what All above gives me a headache. You see, I want to use Uniface in future too. But I am doubting there is a long future. There is something that must be done. It’s not enough for Uniface (who came up with the idea to give the company the same name as the product?) to release a brand new product and wait what will happen. Nothing will happen by itself. And we? Are we also just waiting for things to happen? We, the Uniface users, should find a way to regain our enthusiasm, our eagerness. I am thinking about this for a while now. But I wonder. Do you share my worries? I am very interested hearing from you all. So please respond to this blog. I am looking to forward to hearing from you (send me a message or comment below)! In the meanwhile I’ll need a coffee and wait for something to happen…. Or?

14 Comments

  1. Peter, My memory of names is not as good as faces, so I don't know if you know me. Our stories are similar. I started working with Uniface before it became part of Compuware (having convinced management to bring the product into our Canadian IT shop after a compelling sales demo at the Chicago office). Shortly after Compuware bought the company, I accepted employment with Compuware and worked there from 1997 to 2002, primarily with Uniface. From there, I worked at a Uniface VAR in the Toronto area. Unlike you, my formal connection with Uniface ended in 2005 - yet I still maintain a connection (and a love) of the product. And like you, although I am about 20 years older than you, I dread the effort required to learn a new way of working. Having been so long removed from the mainstream, I don't know how well Uniface does in the market today. I do know that if the company is interested in increasing market share and product awareness, there needs to be a way for entrepreneurial individuals to experience the power of Uniface in a way that is unencumbered. About 18 months ago, I got permission to install a trial version of Uniface 9 on my personal computer as a tool to work on a pet project that had commercial potential. Within a very short time, I had a working client-server prototype - but when I wanted to see how it would work online, I met resistance getting access to UROUTER and other resources. Also, my skills in Uniface had deteriorated and I was slow to pick up on the capabilities of Uniface 9. My last formal use of Uniface was with version 8.0 and even that was limited, as my employer at the time was just transitioning from Uniface 7. After a few months, I gave up... What I would love to see is an online community edition - something hosted in the cloud, where the IDE is web-based and deployment can be done to a Uniface-hosted sub-domain. This would allow for proof-of-concept projects to be created with little to no upfront investment. Getting individuals excited about Uniface, and allowing them to develop an understanding of its capabilities in their spare time may be a way to revitalize interest in the product. Jack Eisenberg
  2. I also have around 20+ years Uniface under my belt. In those years, for me it was almost 100% Uniface. In the last three years, it seems to have completely vanished from all Australian job searches. It seems to be an endangered species here, and very sad, as I too "love Uniface".
  3. I have worked with Uniface 25+ years. Uniface has always been my favourite development regarding desktop applications. I've built some small desktop applications with Visual Studio (VS) to overcome some run-time licens problems etc., but Uniface has usually been very competetive. During the last ten years there has been an increasing demand for web-services and web-programs. For some reason I have never learned the world of Uniface servers and services; urouter, application servers etc. Eg. I really don't know what is needed and how to set up an environment to publish web-services built by Uniface. Is it eg. even possible to use IIS as web-server. Our customers have used IIS as web-server and instead of explaining and setting up the needed Uniface services and servers, it has been very easy to make the needed web-services in VS. These services has usually been built conceptually right, N-tier possibilities etc., but in reality the web-service software is published to the IIS-server, after that nothing else needed but a connection-string to the database. Regarding web-services and web-applications, we have always built them with VS, but I have always searched for a tool that would make web-development as easy and clear as Uniface desktop development. Why is there no good tool to make web-development easy, also offering a migration path to newer versions of JScript-libraries, database-drivers etc. Probably because it's expensive to develop and maintain such a tool, including the expense to get the knowledge and expertise needed. And if you own this kind of tool, how to invoice your customers? Regards Roger.
  4. Hi Jack, Thanks for your reply! I worked for Compuware from 1999 to 2001. After that I was self employed. But some how I always returned to Uniface projects. You mention a community edition. I believe they are working on that. But in the meantime you can download a trial version of Uniface 10! Hopefully next week a new blog.... :) Best regards, Peter
  5. Hi Ronny, Did you download Uniface 10 yet? You can download a trial version! I am very curious what you think of 10! best regards, Peter
  6. Hi Roger, Thanks for your reply. Compared to you I am a junior, I work with Uniface for only 20 years... :) Do you still use Uniface? I wonder what you think of version 10... You can download a free trial... Kind regards, Peter
  7. In the book "The Productive Programmer" Neal Ford mentioned in chapter "Ployglot Programming": He didn't want to use the languages he already knew and loved (C and C++) because, even for someone who loved them, they were ill-suited to this type of job. One day, James decided to create a new language that would solve some of the problems of the beloved but flowed existing languages. Over the years since 1993, I published a lot about "open IDF" and "Codegeneration". So I think it's worth to provide some tools around the official delivered product. A lot of years ago, Paul Koldijk (AFAIK the head of the netherland user group) published a lot of forms based on the metadictionary serving most needs of a day-to-day uniface coder. If you look outside unifaceland, the world is full of addons, generators, Domain Specific Languages (DSL). Especially in the U10 world, a (raw) formgenerator can save you a lot of time. The DSL file is just a simple: form aa2 referentialIntegrity= a1.test, a2.test, a3.test {headerframe header.usys fields=A,b,c,d entityframe a.b fields=k,l,m entityframe myent.mymodel clipversion=a entityframe talk2tabex.opp_support modeled fields=DK_QUIT trailerframe trailer.usys fields=f,g,h breakframe test1.usys fields= a,g,h }
  8. No, it's absolutely not a "Uniface is bad". But in all those years, there was always a group of active users like Paul sharing tools to support a more efficient work with the IDF; I saw a lot of nice usability boosters in the ADDITIONAL menues anywhere. As It's much easier to move existing fields and labels to their final position than to specify them from scratch, a lot of people love the "Load Fields" functionality. Supporting the efficient mass production with uniface, this is the base for my DSL example which generates an export file with a raw form to start from. It's still in incubation phase, but already shown a lot of power. I even used a similar approach to generate the SQLite NORTHWIND datamodel.
  9. Hi Peter, I would love to download and trial Uniface 10, however, apart from my own curiosity, there seems to be no other reason for me to do this. Sadly, I see no promise, or even suggestion, of Uniface making effort to keep Australia as an active market. Hopefully wrong in my views, Ronny
  10. Hi Peter, I had to check my old calendar (diary), and yes I don't lie. The first note about "Uniface intro" was 1 june 1990 and after that the first project started very soon. Yes, I still use Uniface almost every day, at least one of the applications we started 1990 is still going strong. No, I haven't downloaded Uniface 10, although having seen some videos and demos about 10. Probably "Lack of Eagerness", or this time I won't be the first pilot... There is a market for RAD-tools, but I think Uniface has some preparation to do before attracting the masses. There should be very clear how to build a general dataaccess-, and business-layer. Probably with an open API-interface, eg. rest-services. And then the possibility to build the UI, for all kind of devices (mobile, web, desktop). Very often it would be enough with a device-responsive UI. Regards Roger.
  11. Hi Peter, I have still the same vision when i started with Uniface 5.1f in 1991: "I love Uniface". Model driven (MDA), template driven development (TDD) is my thing. I played around with Uniface 10 and however the usability can be improved i can say its very promising. I use state of the art technology available in Uniface. That will say, old stuff is removed, new stuff is added without rewriting my application. Just modifying some of my TCCO-FAST templates and compile. So TCCO-FAST today is pure UNIFACE9.7 without the obsolete old stuff that still works;) The same approach for the web, complete responsive web forms using the latest technology and guess what, we can change/replace on demand the framework without rewriting the application. Model Driven, Template Driven architecture is powerful. Can you imagine that the Dutch Tax office is currently redesigning there applications using the same approach? The point is they do because it saves money, effort and time. Thats why i love Uniface. Uniface 10 improves model/template driven architecture and will fit for people that understands the power of MDA/TDD.
  12. I'm now using Uniface for 7 years, never before I have heard about Uniface. Only Java and .Net, VB6,... Starting in Uniface 8, then 9.4, 9.6 and now we are on 9.7 I find it very easy to create new forms, it goes very quickly. I use it daily the Uniface and .Net environment. So the first thing I noticed that the IDF is 'old' school, no intellisense, bad error treatment. Some real errors are warnings... No check on changing operations for example adding a new parameter, all calls to it should now give an error when I compile it, so I cannot forget to change one. I hope this all changes with Uniface 10, but till proven otherwise I prefer the .Net development environment. (IDE)
  13. "...With a minimum effort we produce highly effective applications...." and with MAXIMUM effort maintain it, test every single change MANUALLY, NO GUI tests all, NO UNIT_TESTS...!!! it is almost 2017, and not 1997.
  14. Labmouse: I understand what you mean and I share your thought. Completely agree.