Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 142 / JULY 1992 / PAGE 104

ObjectVision 2.0. (program development software) (Evaluation)
by Tom Campbell

There are database programs. There are development systems. There are forms designers. And lately, hybrid products that claim to be all three have come along. ObjectVision 2.0 for Windows is one program that makes such a claim.

It is, in fact, a very powerful database toolkit that makes formerly difficult Windows jobs childishly simple.

Borland coyly refuses to offer a one-line description of ObjectVision, so I'll follow Borland's lead and instead summarize what you can do with the program. ObjectVision can be used to create databases in dBASE, Paradox, ASCII, and BTrieve formats. You can create filters for these databases using a simple forms approach. You can design forms for these databases visually, with full control over fonts and color support as well. The design tools mimic those of a rudimentary-but-capable draw program (but ObjectVision can import bitmaps via the Windows Clipboard). Most onscreen objects, such as fields, database tables, and buttons, can perform user-defined actions using visual "event trees" that do many of the same things a simple programming language could do, without forcing you to program.

Borland originally downplayed the ability of ObjectVision 1.0 to create databases, instead touting it as a front end for other database systems, notably dBASE and Paradox. But as often happens with software, those pesky users insisted on doing their own thing with it--and that turned out to be custom application development. Users were also unwilling to part with $495 (the original price for ObjectVision 1.0) for a database program that didn't have a traditional programming environment.

Borland sensibly paid attention to their needs, soon tilting the development of 2.0 toward the creation of sophisticated data-management systems under Windows. The company went one step further and allowed the free distribution of ObjectVision runtime modules. The result is that people who were formerly not identified as database experts (the same people who are willing to take a crack at macros in 1-2-3 or WordPerfect but who don't identify themselves as programmers) are suddenly able to quickly create seamless, freely distributable database applications that run under Windows.

And while ObjectVision 2.0 does lack the scripting language it so richly deserves, it's able to perform many of the kinds of tasks that would be enormously complicated using languages such as SQL or dBASE. One of ObjectVision's unsung features is the ability of a single onscreen form to update many different databases using many different formats at once. For example, your innocent-looking order entry form can automatically update your dBASE customer file, a Paradox inventory table, and an ASCII mailing list file, all without requiring a single line of programming and all without the knowledge of the user. ObjectVision is so adept at managing multiple relations that I'm sure many users are already creating applications that would be regarded as quite advanced by database theorists, even though the very same users might not know a thing about set theory.

Network users should note that even at its surprisingly low price, ObjectVision supports a half-dozen networks if the database files are in Paradox format. On the other hand, owners of small businesses or prospective personal users should also pay close attention, because there's no faster way I know of to get a high-performance database written than with ObjectVision 2.0.

Is ObjectVision for you? See if any of the following apply: Do you need to develop Windows database applications of elementary-to-medium complexity? Are you fairly sure that you can get by without a programming language to back you up (or do you not know any programming languages)? Are you a consultant who wants to distribute turnkey applications with record turnaround? Do you need to whip together a slick forms package for an existing database in dBASE, Paradox, ASCII, or BTrieve format?

If you answered yes to any of the above, ObjectVision is a no-brainer. There's no better deal for a hundred and fifty bucks.