Building Java, .Net Apps Sans Coding

Kinzan enables Java and .Net application development through an assembly model with no coding.

A small but growing software company is rolling out a major upgrade that lets developers build standards-based Java and .Net applications with no coding.

Kinzan Inc. this week will release Kinzan Studio & Server 4.0, a development and deployment environment that lets developers build enterprise applications through an assembly model by simply linking components in a drag-and-drop format.

"Our product allows customers to rapidly assemble enterprise applications that are less expensive than building from scratch and more flexible than buying off the shelf," said Garland Wong, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering at Kinzan, in Carlsbad, Calif.

The initial version of Kinzan Studio & Server 4.0 is the Java version, based on the Eclipse open-source application development platform. The Kinzan technology runs as a set of plug-ins to Eclipse, Wong said. The .Net version will follow this summer and run as a set of plug-ins to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net, he said. The company is rolling out a beta program for that version.

In Visual Studio, Kinzan uses Microsofts Visio as the graphical editor for visually assembling applications. In Eclipse, it uses a graphical library called Graphical Editing Framework.

Robert Scoble, a technical evangelist in Microsofts .Net Platform Strategy Group, in Redmond, Wash., recently saw a Kinzan demo and called the technology "pretty exciting. Id never seen a coding environment that was like this. Just plop a component down on the screen. Draw a line to connect into the system. No code."

Yet, Scoble said the "shocker" was when Wong, who demonstrated the technology, closed Eclipse, "then he fired it up on Visual Studio and did the same thing."

The benefit is "now you can have both sides of your development team [Java and .Net] working on the same [visual programming] metaphor," Scoble said. "We hadnt seen that before."

Daryl Plummer, an analyst with Gartner Inc., in Stamford, Conn., said the ability to develop the model for an application one time and target to "a Java environment and a .Net environment" is key.

Kinzans approach focuses on an MVC (Model-View-Controller) methodology, Wong said. MVC separates the application into business logic, presentation and data parts, which makes for more maintainable and reusable applications, Wong said.

"Its easier to architect and build complex applications by sticking to MVC; its easier to maintain applications built using MVC, and its easier to enhance [them] built using MVC," said Chris Hanson, Inc. founder and president, in Hoffman Estates, Ill.