Simple RAD tools from industry giants fly below the radar

Oracle and IBM are not normally names you associate with simple, highly productive software development tools. Arguably, it is the over-complexity of J2EE that left the door open for Microsoft .NET as well as nimbler open-source options like PHP and Ruby on Rails. Still, let me mention two tools that demonstrate how even these giants are devoting attention to productivity. IBM’s Project Zero is the first:

The Project Zero environment includes a scripting runtime for Groovy and PHP with application programming interfaces optimized for producing REST-style services, integration mash-ups and rich Web interfaces.

Groovy is a dynamic language for the Java Virtual Machine, and an interesting option for agile development on the Java platform, though it is perhaps getting overshadowed by JRuby.

And what about Oracle Application Express (or APEX)? This seems to be a well-kept secret at Oracle, though its users love it. Once known as HTML DB, it lets you write applications declaratively. A snag is that you have to know PL/SQL if you want to extend it with custom components. That said, APEX has a couple of big advantages. One is that it is a web services client, so you can integrate it with other web applications. Second, it is ideal for hosted development:

Oracle Application Express enables a single database to host large numbers of users.  Users work in a dedicated work area called a workspace.  This flexible architecture enables a single database instance to manage thousands of applications.

It all sounds strangely similar to what is doing. also calls its platform APEX, runs on Oracle, and was founded by former Oracle executive Mark Benioff.

A difference is that says its APEX platform is the future of web development and will host your application for you, while Oracle markets Application Express as an alternative to Microsoft Access for small departments.

IBM is equally reticent about Project Zero. I couldn’t find it mentioned on the developerWorks site.

It is much easier for startups to promote new models of software development.

4 thoughts on “Simple RAD tools from industry giants fly below the radar”

  1. There is a Project Zero podcast on developerWorks by Jerry Cuomo

    Thanks. I’m glad there is something there; but it’s not easy to find. I just took another look. Nothing (that I can see) on the front page. What’s even more curious is that if I search for Project Zero, I get a lot of results that are irrelevant. The top hit is about “Release 2.0 of the Autonomic Computing Toolkit,” and dates from 2005. Maybe I gave up too soon, but it seems fair to say that IBM is not exactly shouting about this.


  2. >seems fair to say that IBM is not exactly shouting about this.

    Some of us are just tired of shouting and being shouted to.

    Joe Lea, IBM Project Zero Product Manager

  3. Some of us are just tired of shouting and being shouted to.

    Fair point, though maybe you could up the volume just a teeny bit 🙂

    I like the project, which is why I thought it worth mentioning here.


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