Mainstream Move for Linux

Borland's Kylix gives developers component library, interactive programming for building GUI apps.

Large-scale corporate deployment of low-cost Linux desktop systems could move into the mainstream by the end of this quarter, propelled by Borland Software Corp.s release of its long-awaited Kylix, a rapid application development environment closely resembling Borlands Object Pascal-based Delphi.

eWeek Labs examined Kylix in late-prerelease form, before its public unveiling at Linux World in New York this week. Our trials included hands-on development of native Linux GUI applications with XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based data storage, using the new Borland CLX (Component Library Cross-Platform) family of software components. CLX will enable single-source application development for Linux and Windows when Borland releases the CLX-compatible Delphi 6 in the first half of this year.

Learning to build applications in Kylix wont be hard for any developer experienced with Delphi or similar products, such as Microsoft Corp.s Visual Basic. A familiar programming model is wrapped in a set of editing tools that preserves the two-way interaction of Borlands recent offerings.

CLX Web server components will support the Apache Web server framework and will be compatible with the WebBroker technology familiar to Delphi developers. CLX data access components will work with a new Borland database framework, dbExpress, analogous to the Online Database Connectivity standard but designed to maximize client-side performance in bandwidth-limited (or intermittently connected) settings. Kylix will include high-performance drivers for Oracle, DB2, MySQL and Borlands Interbase back ends.

The current Borland Database Engine will not be part of the Kylix offering. Borlands Midas technology will migrate to dbExpress in the form of application-side data cache capabilities, along with automatic "mobile data briefcase" operation. The latter will let users modify records in disconnected mode and automatically resynchronize at the next opportunity.

Lightweight database management tasks will readily be handled by the included MyBase local database management system. MyBase, an XML-based system, easily interacts with other data sources (see screen). Developing a data-driven application in Kylix is merely a matter of dropping icons for data source and display, filling in properties, and visually constructing data display and navigation tools.

Kylix wont take sides in the contest between graphical environments for Linux: It will be neutral between the popular KDE (K Desktop Environment) and GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) desktops.

At Linux World, representatives of the newly renamed Borland (formerly Inprise Corp.) will disclose the details of the planned first-quarter Kylix offerings, including editions for server and desktop applications. The company will also disclose its plans for Kylix open-source development.