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Robert's Blog

March 31, 2011

The 6.0 milestone.

Finally, after a 4 month rollout period, Witango 6.0 is available on all three supported platforms. OS X and Linux were both challenges, OS X because the platform had changed so much, and Linux because we had to start from scratch. During those 4 months, we were also able to release two revisions (6.0.5 and 6.0.7) which corrected a number of important issues in the server and dozens of bugs and missing features in the Studio. Even though there is so much more to do, Im pleased with our progress so far.

In many ways, the 6.0 release is closer to Witangos past, than its future. The improvements weve made since last August have been centered on platform and compiler compatibility and stabilizing the existing feature set. We also made efforts to ease migration and support backwards compatibility, focusing on our core customers who have been using the Witango (and Tango) products for years.

We now begin the long journey forward, step by step, as we work on 6.1 and future releases. Customers can expect to see modernized underpinnings, new tags, better performance and wide range of improvements made to all parts of the Server and Studio. And even though its a long way off, plans for the 7.0 feature set have already begun to take shape. We endeavor to bring the Witango platform back to foreground of web development.

Wed like to thank all of the customers who placed pre-orders and who have purchased the product during our initial release. Your confidence in the platform and in Tronics is greatly appreciated. We hope Witango continues to be a useful development tool.

December 08, 2010

Witango on Mac OS X.

Many Witango users (nearly half) use Mac OS X and we are committed to making Witango a solid application on the Mac OS X platform, not only for those users, but because we feel that Mac OS X users can benefit most from Witango.

Deciding to fully support Mac OS X is not an easy decision. The Operating System is quite a bit different from Windows and even from other flavors of Unix. What's more, the problem with Mac OS X is with Apple itself. Apple's view of its own Operating System is somewhat self-serving and egotistical. What I mean by this is that Apple tends to push its existing developers deeper into its way of thinking, while at the same time making it more difficult for cross platform development. A few examples of this are with Java, something that up until recently Apple has kept a tight grip on while providing a JRE to its customers which was inferior to what was generally available on other platforms. This attitude went against the core mission of Java. Last month Apple announced that it would cease providing Java on Mac OS X starting with 10.7 (Lion). And, in bad form, initially failed to provide users of Java on Mac OS X any direction for the future. Now it seems that Oracle will step up and fill the void. This could be some very good news, providing that Oracle, with Apple's help, produces a JRE on Mac OS X 10.7+ that is equivalent to the JREs found on other platforms. This would be an improvement, and help better support the Witango Development Studio on Mac OS X, which currently requires several workarounds. Only time will tell if we will get the support for Java on Mac OS X that we are hoping for.

Another situation that Apple is not helping software products like Witango is with ODBC. In Witango, we are focused on fully supporting ODBC and JDBC, due to our cross platform nature and the maturity of those technologies. Between the removal of the ODBC administrator from 10.6, and the lackluster Java support, both of these technologies are more difficult to implement on Mac OS X than on other platforms. It seems that our customers will have to make due downloading the ODBC administrator separately before supporting ODBC connections in the Witango Application Server.

I think that the most problematic aspect of Apple's stance is that they are really only adding new functionality to Mac OS X via Objective-C. While a perfectly fine language in it's own right, Objective-C is not very cross platform, and therefore not a language that Witango can make use of. This basically boils down to fact that as time goes by some Studio or Server features may be left out of the Mac OS X builds, act significantly different than the other platforms, or simply be delayed. This is something that will happen case by case, and is not a general rule, but it's still an issue to contend with. On this last point, Apple isn't truly alone. Microsoft is favoring its own C# and .NET environments more and more. I think the biggest difference is that Microsoft, at least for the time being, sees C++ as a valid language and is keeping it up-to-date whereas Apple doesn't necessarily do so. We've already encountered several occasions where we don't have backwards compatibility with older dependencies on Mac OS X that we do on Windows, and supporting 32-bit applications on 64-bit Windows is much more feasible than on 64-bit Mac OS X.

All-in-all, Mac OS X is a troublesome platform for cross-platform development. As I said up top, we believe that if Witango works well on Mac OS X, we could attract many new customers to the platform. But smoothing out development on Mac OS X and working with 64-bit, Java, ODBC, JDBC, etc. will be an uphill battle. Add in the fact that Apple seems to be shying away from the server market with the recent discontinuation of the Xserve, and we are likely to be supporting Mac OS X developers who need the Application Server for development only, and rely on cross-platform deployment to Linux or Windows servers.

November 30, 2010

Welcome to my blog.

In this space I hope to share some of my thoughts about the future of Witango. I was able to purchase Witango in August of 2010 from its Australian owners, Witango Technologies. They had owned the software since 2001. It's been 4 months since then, and as I write this on the eve of making our first release, I can't believe how much I've learned about Witango and what it means to own and manage a programming platform. I don't think anyone truly knows every nuance of Witango. There are hundreds of tags, dozens of actions, and a multitude of internal and background functions that all come together to make Witango what it is. The complexity of it all is sometimes overwhelming and is brought to light each time a feature or function needs to be reviewed and reworked. From the philosophy of the language to the details of internal processes, there are hundreds of pieces to each of the hundreds of commands, making for tens of thousands of lines of code. All of this is not insurmountable, of course. I'm happy to be taking on this task, and look forward to enhancing and reviving Witango as a great tool to make great web sites.

Now that I understand much more about the state of Witango, I can share some of the plans that I have for the platform. It's no surprise that I'll be advancing the software in nearly every way possible. But here are just a few of the items that I have on the list:

Improved performance and platform support, including 64-bit
Improved stability, including better load balancing and fault-tolerance
Improved ability to support multiple sites on one server
Improved ISP and cloud support
Improved Data Source management
Improved logging, debugging and errors

That's just a few of the areas where Ive identified issues and short-comings that need to be addressed. There is also a list of new features that I wish to add to make the platform more modern, easier to program in, and provide a stronger environment for complex applications and high traffic sites.

This will all take time, however. Some the changes I am considering will take months to plan, implement and test. And the list is long. As I lay out Witango's calendar, I hope to see releases every 2-4 months which advance the platform in the ways listed above, as well as incorporate feature requests and bug fixes. I feel that it is important to constantly push the platform forward, respond to the feedback of customers, and maintain a healthy, fast-paced release schedule that shows my commitment to supporting the development platform that my customers have put their faith in.

As we roll out the 6.0 release and it's revisions, I hope you'll see them for what they truly are: a first step forward in a platform that has been dormant for several years. We have quite a bit of ground to catch up on, both internally in the code as well as in the philosophy and capabilities of the platform. I'm confident in my abilities, and of the team I've created to help me. I hope you will continue to use Witango, be active in the community, and help Witango grow into a great development platform.