|Need a Quick App Deployed to the Web? Try RapidBiz from VACAVA|
|Programming - Dev Tools|
|Written by Chris Smith|
|Friday, 02 December 2011 00:00|
An affordable cloud-based development environment for SMBs, the solution promises to be a quick Web application builder for business users and one that developers can utilize to shave hours off time spent programming.
In our continuing search for tools that can help developers build or extend applications easily and quickly, we turn our spotlight on RapidBiz, a development toolset from VACAVA, an IBM Business Partner that was named a finalist earlier this year in the annual IBM Beacon Award competition.
The beauty of RapidBiz is that you can create and deploy a working application in mere minutes and give your authorized users a URL to grant them online access. If you have a department head who wants an expense-report application up and running yesterday, you literally can have it operational and available to every employee from home—or anywhere in the world—in a matter of hours. Your application will be able to link to any ODBC- or JDBC-compliant database, including IBM DB2 for i, SQL Server, and the other usual suspects, though the underlying database on which RapidBiz is perched natively is DB2.
There are actually ISVs using RapidBiz to create and deploy custom applications in vertical markets where each company needs a basic set of functions but each firm is slightly different from the next and requires small custom enhancements.
"What used to be a day to three days' work for a software developer, I can now do in a couple of hours,'' says Ross Mast, CEO of Specifi, a Michigan-based company that creates software tools to support the consumer packaging industry. "This is huge for my business. I want to offer our customers the customization that RapidBiz allows, but they won't pay a huge cost for it. We wouldn't have the capabilities to do this if I didn't use RapidBiz.'' Specifi helps to build databases to manage the often complex details of customers' packaging needs.
One of the impressive features of RapidBiz is that a non-programmer can both create and deploy an application, the latter being accomplished with the click of an "Active" radio button. There is no separate development environment and porting of the application over to a production server if you run it on the Vacava cloud, hosted by Rackspace Hosting. You drag your text, numeric values, decimal integers, drop-down boxes, or other fields and views onto the form designer, point at a column or table in your database, and activate it. All changes and updates are reflected immediately upon reactivation.
Developers who wish to create applications for sale may upload them into the VACAVA ReadyApps Catalog, according to Bird, who says the company will take no commission on anything sold, though there is a $55 fee at the time of upload.
"RapidBiz is ideal for situations where people want to have something done right now. They have a tool set that allows them to do it, and better yet, it deploys it immediately to the Web," says Bird. "So if you want to get that information out to your customers, your suppliers, your team…you can do that literally in a matter of minutes or hours today with RapidBiz," he says.
Bird notes that customers have a choice when they come to VACAVA. They can use RapidBiz themselves to build their application, have the VACAVA developer team create it for them, or purchase a pre-built app already made beforehand using the tool set.
The company's typical client is a small to medium-sized firm that has been using spreadsheets extensively and wants the data consolidated into a database and made available to employees using a browser. RapidBiz has been tested compatible with Internet Explorer and Firefox.
The other type of customer the firm often sees is a company that has an ERP application that it wishes to extend beyond the features of the core system. RapidBiz provides the ideal solution for extending ERP apps, says Bird.
"We all understand that ERP is great, and it provides a wealth of features and functions around the process, but it can't do everything for everybody every time," says Bird.
VACAVA charges customers a monthly fee by the application and the number of developers, not the number of users; the application can be of any size. For two developers to create and host up to five applications, the fee is $100 per month. The company promises a runtime environment for five applications at $50 a month, though the Web site says that offer is "coming soon."
While the VACAVA user forums suggest RapidBiz may still have a few minor bugs, power users appear to be extremely enthusiastic about the solution. A new version of RapidBiz is currently in the works and is expected to be released within the next few months.
|Last Updated on Friday, 02 December 2011 00:00|