4D Developer Edition 6.7

With version 6.7, 4D has kept up the continual improvement of the last ten years. Today, 4D is ready to face the challenges of the Internet and e-commerce. Its relational database remains the number-one applications-creation tool for professionals, ahead of FileMaker Pro. At first sight, one could think that this new version of 4D is a minor update. After all, the software only moved from version 6.5 to 6.7 – but that’s not true. This new version brings a number of improvements aimed at helping developers work. And 4D’s commitment to the Internet is stronger than ever. Net service
Since version 6.0, 4D has come with an HTTP server – Web 4D. But to become a truly helpful solution for developers, it needed a third-party software called ITK (Christian Quest’s Internet ToolKit). Things improved with 4D 6.5, as it could create Web sites that would behave as any other – with the correct management of the Web browser’s Next page and Previous page buttons, for example. But work remained to be done. With version 6.7, the work environment has been optimized in a major way. The server is now much more efficient as far as the cache is concerned. It supports the SSl protocol (data and transactions exchange-securement based on the RSA public/private key concept). And it handles a number of industry standards such as XML, HTML 4.0, Java, CSS1, ISAPI (a Microsoft protocol used to interface with other HTTP servers under Windows NT or 2000), and even WML – the language for WAP. Web 4D makes the most of external CGIs, such as the extensions for WebStar or PERL scripts. But 4D 6.7 is also able to interface with every CGI-compatible HTTP server, including such big names as Apache. And it’s precisely thanks to that capacity (behaving as a CGI for other servers) that 4D interfaces directly with the WebStar HTTP server. That is no surprise, since 4D has acquired the most successful Mac OS Web server. Let’s be very clear though: WebStar doesn’t replace Web 4D, but offers brand-new opportunities to build more ambitious Web sites. And its integration is likely to go even further in a forthcoming version of 4D, thanks to the components concept. We’ll say a word about that in a moment. Team player
With 4D 6.7, it’s even easier to work as part of a team – for both those who define and program databases on one side, and, on the other side, those who conceive the human dimension of a Web site. Everyone can now concentrate on their task. 4D 6.7 gives freedom back to creators. For codephobic Web-site designers, a new component, 4D Web Assistant, is helpful when publishing databases on an intranet or over the Internet. This assistant gives full access to the dynamic pages’ HTML code via an HTML editor. Unfortunately, even in the standard version, it’s unintuitive. And in the standard version of 4D, it can be used only with new databases. If you wish to open already existing files, you’ll need 4D Insider, available only with 4D Developer Edition. As far as the Web and 4D are concerned, a great number of new HTML tags can now be used with the SSI. 4D’s own language follows the same evolution. 4D 6.7 supports QuickTime 4 and authentification certificates for safety and encryption. What is 4D’s integration with 4D WebStar and 4D WebAssistant all about? Well, this trio is 4D’s answer to the developers’ needs in terms of protection. In private mode, the content of a component cannot be touched, it can’t even be seen. It also guarantees a greater reliability of the code – for example, managing an update is easier. The creation of those components might be the foundation of an object’s trading market (free or commercial) between members of the 4D development community. 4D 6.7 also brings a bunch of new commands which promise to make 4D’s language even richer. We counted 24 new commands – for instance, manipulating aliases as well as Mac OS folders – and over 15 existing commands are improved.

OUR VERDICT

4D is a development environment as well as a Mac OS server solution (the OS X version is coming soon). But it also runs on Windows 95, 98, Me, NT and 2000. 4D provides wide compatibility in order to program and deploy cross-platform applications. With version 6.7, there’s less need to use the 4D Transporter utility to carry structure and data files from one OS to the other – however, not every feature exists on all platforms. Also, the user interface in the client application can adapt to the operating system’s interface. It even changes with users’ appearance preferences. Alain Lalisse for Univers Macworld (France). Translated from French by Benjamin Vincent.

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