Object Builder

February 10, 2006

There are two items on the Object Builder front worth mentioning. The first is that I have presented it to outsiders for the first time. The second is the bold new success that I have had with it, generating nearly the entirety of a web application using only Object Builder. The speed at which this application came together was truely astounding, and convinces me even more that this is powerful technology.

On the first point, I presented this technology to my local Linux User’s Group last night. I didn’t have any slick videos like the Ruby On Rails people have, just a series of slides and some example files. There were several people though who were interested and managed to ask intelligent questions, which I found heartening. It helped that the week before they had seen a presentation about Ruby On Rails, so their brains were ready for the concept.

The downside is that my laptop and the projector weren’t on speaking terms. That means that I couldn’t show off the slick new app that I’d built. That’s just as well, because when I got home and tried to investigate I discovered that one of the pieces of technology that I’d depended on, that worked magnificantly on my development machine, was a no-go on my laptop. To be blunt, the PDO module for PHP doesn’t install correctly when built from source. This whole experience shows why it’s so important to do a dry run of any presentation.

The second point, my bold new success with Object Builder, is much more exciting. When I first built Object Builder I had the idea that I could build not only my active record, but possibly interface controllers as well. I’d never done it before, until this week. If you’re not hip to what an application controller is, it’s the bit of code that manages the interface for a particular table (or related tables) in your application. Once the active record objects are built, this is the part where most of the time is spent; it’s definitely where I’ve spent most of my time on CeaMuS.

I spent a couple of days on getting this to work, fine tuning the templates until I got something that was really slick. I spent another day to tweak some of the interaction with PHP’s PDO module. It’s a really neat little module, but unfortunately it’s the broken piece of technology I mentioned earlier. Fortunately the Windows version comes pre-compiled and it’s excellent. It’s what the other PHP-based database abstraction modules aren’t. It’s also in the C source. Sometimes I get buggy about speed, so this is a really great thing from my perspective.

The downside to this overwhelming success is that I’m starting to question the direction I’ve taken with CeaMuS. I’ve put a lot of time into making CeaMuS what it is in C++. But in the space of a week I was able to build a solid shell in PHP, and it would be trivially easy to expand. It’s very tempting to do the same thing for C++ and rebuilt CeaMuS from the ground up, on a more expandable foundation. The pragmatic side of me resists it, but when I build the hosted version of CeaMuS I may start afresh using this technology.

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