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Steve's Scribbles...

WebObjects, Here I Come

Friday, February 27, 1998

The Bay Area NeXT Group had its meeting Wednesday where more pieces of the Rhapsody puzzle were shown; specifically, WebObjects and Enterprise Object Frameworks. Reactions were positive. Wow, there's so much I want to say about this.

A week ago I attended a WebObjects demo here at the Olin School, and I have to say I was impressed. I would have been floored and drooling had the demos all worked, but something was funny on the presenter's Windows NT notebook and some of the programs weren't functioning. Assuming that's an unusual case (and all accounts suggest that it is), I have to say that WebObjects seems like it might be the tool I want to spend the rest of my life using.

The presenter turned a typical Microsoft Access database into an interactive, queryable Web page in -- literally! -- minutes. I saw it done. Sure, tweaking it and customizing would take time, lots of time, but the first step -- making a web form ask a question directly to the database and get an appropriate answer -- was the one I've so far been putting off.

With, say, Access' convoluted way of getting you there with Active Server Pages or custom-written CGIs, that step could have taken me days of guessing and debugging which I don't have to spare. Even with Frontier, I could easily expect to spend several hours getting that far off the ground. If this tool can save me that much time with one feature alone, think of the extra-cool features I could add with the remaining extra time! Or, think of the vacation days I could take! Hmmmm.

Three Cheers for Educational Pricing

Being at a university, we'll be getting a ridiculously low price on WebObjects, too. Why, I could cheaply develop extremely valuable skills and maybe then get a job somewhere else for an enormous salary...nah.

The nice thing is, WebObjects exists now (and has for a while, actually - just not at an affordable price). It's not coming in the fall, or in early 1999, or whenever. I can get it now.

The ironic thing is, right now it only runs on Windows NT (which I do have on one of my desktops). Hey, if that's what I've gotta use to get to this, I'll do it.

I already know several places I want to put it to good use... the Job Postings area for the Weston Career Resources Center needs to be queryable, as does the Alumni Sharing Knowledge database. Moving our rooms-scheduling and calendar functions to the Web is a big priority; this looks to me like the best tool for it. Handling online applications for our PhD program and Executive MBA programs seems like a good feature to add with this. And on and on...

I'll be getting it sometime in March. I'm salivating already.


This does not mean I have no further use for Frontier; WebObjects will just be my tool of choice for database-driven content. For static batches of pages (which there will still be a huge number of) I still believe Frontier is my best bet.

As always, for more news, pointers & commentary, see Steve Bogart's home page.

Handy Official Disclaimer: Steve's Scribbles are my own personal work and not meant to be taken as official Olin School of Business pronouncements. They are, however, © Steve Bogart (original publication date is at the top of each Scribble).
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