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Wide angle

Casino night

The Pullman Paris Rive Gauche hotell was the setting, September 18th, for 4D's autumn conference, focused on the possibilites of 4D Web 2.0 Pack in collaboration with the iPhone, the hottest of the next-generation phones on the market.


The evening of presentations allowed our customers – some of whome came from as far as Belgium and some who were in town for Apple Expo – to get a complete look at our latest Web technologies and discuss them, in person, with our sales and technical teams... Something we like to do regularly.


In fact, if there was any place where Apple had a presence near the Porte de Versailles, it was here! We were graced by the presence of three members of the Apple team who made note that Mac and iPhone technologies are used and appreciated daily by 4D developers.


In a convival and friendly atmosphere, a relaxed party followed, with a cocktail reception and casino gaming.


Judging by the feedback, it seems that most of the participants were very convinced by what they saw. In fact, many of the guests expressed their sincere interest in 4D's mobile and Web 2.0 products!


Full Recap

Luc Hollande
Luc Hollande, CEO of the 4D group, presented teh stakes and the prospects of new enterprise technologies. The emergence of new possibilities and uses for professional applications has transformed the software industry little by little. From now on, new needs are coming into the specs: More collaborative means of working, using Web browser as a truly thin client, Web 2.0 technology bringing a more desktop-like user experience... deployments across a wide spectrum of devices need to be kept in mind, taking into account new business models like subscription-based applications and externalized data (Software as a Service) that reduce infrastructure costs and allow for flexible deployments.


We're entering a transitionary phase right now, with the big actors of the market imposing new standards. Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and Apple – among others – are fighting it out, and the result will determine the landscape of the future. 4D has its role to play in this process. As a company that prescribes technology to its users, our mission is to give 4D developers the simplest and quickest access to these new standards, offering an easy learning curve, and the most backward compatibility for existing applications. We also want to provide value to new users, vertical markets, and enterprise accounts, using our vision and our know-how for combining innovation and simplicity to create and sustain professional applications – resolutely oriented to Web 2.0. Our roadmap is in place, our ambitions are well defined, our R&D is at work, the results are state of the art, with immediately usable technolgies, and promising projects in the coming months.

As of today, 4D Web 2.0 Pack allows you to launch new Web 2.0-oriented projects with the latest technologies, or to "webify" existing applications and introduce new components gradually, allowing a gentle transition toward hybrid applications, all as capable and ergonomic on the internet as they are locally.


Michel Sutter

Michel Sutter, Senior Partnership Manager at Apple Inc., responsible for Developer Relations in Europe, gave a rundown of the latest news from the company and highlighted the incredible success of the iPhone in becoming one of the market leaders for smartphones in only a few months. It's generated a growing movement of application creation, those for the integrated Safari browser, or native Cocoa apps for the iPhone. Evoking the diversity of existing programs, and the ease with which they can be put into users hands, Michel Sutter asserted Apple's desire to penetrate the enterprise market, with its compatibility with MS Exchange for example, and on the natural link between the iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac OS and Mac hardware in general, which continues to represent the majority of resources and investments in the company.  And he didn't forget to highlight the strong synergy between Apple and 4D, always together since the start of both brands, based on their shared values of innovation and simplicity, confirmed today with the release of tools dedicated to the deployment of 4D databases on the iPhone.

Olivier Deschanels
Olivier Deschanels, responsible for the development of internal applications at 4D, kicked off a series of technical presentations by recalling the main objectives of the 4D development environment – giving ccess to data as quickly as possible and providing easy RAD performance. This goal, rather basic and pragmatic, is clearly demonstrated by the fluidity of the display of vast quantities of data in Client/Server mode across a broadband network, or by the ease with which a data model is created and immediately made usable.


After a review of Web 1.0 technologies that have been integrated with 4D since 1995, Olivier presented 4D Ajax Framework, which can now take any existing 4D application into the Web 2.0 universe. All the components of the framework, which has greatly evolved and matured since its release 18 months prior, were detailed and commented, particularly its ease of installation, its usage, and adminisitration.

Gilles Danjou
Gilles Danjou, Program Engineer at 4D, made a brief and convincing demonstration of Dashboards, one of the easiest objects to use in 4D Ajax Framework. In fact, without any programming and just several clicks, it's possible to select a database field to create statuses, calculations and graphs, immediately visible in a dynamic dashboard, right in a classic HTML page, or on an iPhone employing its Touch Screen interface and dynamic orientation features. The data is refreshed at regular intervals and demonstrated an immediate solution for the managerial decision-making needs, using the iPhone for real-time strategic information.

Christophe Keromen
Christophe Keromen, Senior Product Manager at 4D, then demonstrated the technology behind the seeming simplicity of the tool, all available to professional developers through the 4D development environment. 


In terms of integration, the extension for Adobe Dreamweaver, 4D Ajax for Dreamweaver, is the quickest way to put 4D Ajax Framework objects into an HTML page, with a palette allowing you to visually adjust the properties of each element.


From there, the different independent layers of the 4D Ajax Framework allow a fine-grained control of the Web 2.0 programming. At the heart of the framework, the 4D Ajax Framework bridge allows for communication between the 4D database engine and the client side, which can be accessed with the framework itself, a personalized mix of different widgets available (like the powerful Data Grid, Calendar, etc.), or even all or part of another Ajax framework on the market.


Christophe then showed the value of this architecture by showing how easily the same 4D database (in this case, the Personal Planner application) could have multiple remote front-ends (in addition to the 4D environment), such as a browser of iPhone. By using the latest technologies, the developer can immediately offer users a feature in offline mode, and access system resources via a Rich Desktop Application runtime.


The tour was completed by a look at a major RIA technology, Adobe Flex. Based on Flash, it's not really for the iPhone. However the capabilities of the Flex environment, based on ActionScript 3, a new generation of  declarative programming language based upon EcmaScript and MXML, cannot be ignored.  Equally good in terms of productivity, aesthetics, interface, and the efficiency of the Flash Player and its Just-in-Time compiler, Flex is an attractive offer for all Web application developers. 4D and Flex can communicate in multiple ways. Other than Soap and XML via HTTP, the 2nd component of 4D Web 2.0 Pack known as 4D for Flex offers a solution to directly connect Flex and the 4D engine via SQL. Delivered as a SWC library, it offers a proprietary binary protocol to transfer data, executable with any SQL command or invoked by a 4D method, coming from a Flash executable or an Adobe Air runtime.


The presentation concluded with a rundown all of the standards integrated by 4D over the years, the most recent being SVG, with the announcement of the upcoming release of a high-level component allowing the use of vector drawings, with a rich, dynamic language linked to 4D data. The main pathes of future evolutions were marked, with great enthusiasm for the inevitable standards set to dominate the market, all with the spirit of simplicity for which 4D is known.

Prize Drawing
After a Q&A session, a drawing was held with several prizes furnished by 4D. The three happy winners walked away with a license for 4D Developer Professional and 4D Web 2.0 Pack, accompanied by an iPhone 3G, and iPod Touch, and an iPod Nano.