Dataphor Frontend

1. Summary

The Dataphor Frontend builds on the foundation provided by the Dataphor Server to provide automated user interface support. The Frontend technologies enable Automated Application Development by dramatically reducing user interface development time, allowing applications to be built and maintained more quickly and easily.

The Frontend clients are "thin", in that there is no application-specific code in the client. All presentation layer definitions reside in either dynamically created user interfaces or form definitions contained within documents on the Dataphor Server. The result is a rich client with all the deployment and maintenance characteristics of a web-based solution.

2. Frontend Server

The Frontend Server is a library of services within the Dataphor Server which exposes the user interface derivation capabilities of the Dataphor product. It also introduces the concepts of documents and applications into the Dataphor Server.

Derivation is the process of using the information in the application schema to dynamically create user interfaces for the presentation layer of an application. The rules used in derivation embody several years of usable user interface design. The first forms are navigation-centric, or browse forms, useful for selecting an individual row representing a single item. Secondary forms are data-centric, useful for reviewing and/or editing the data representing a single item.

The Frontend Server exposes the process of derivation to the clients of the Dataphor application for the manipulation and presentation of the business model. These user interfaces are based not only on the definitions of the data structures within the business model, but on the relationships between those structures. This means that not only are the basic forms of an application automatable, but navigation through the business model from any perspective is also enabled.

Often, complete applications can be built by simply utilizing the dynamic user interface derivation and customization capabilities of the Frontend Server. Dataphor Frontend Clients request user interface descriptions (or Dataphor user-Interface Language (DIL) documents) from the Dataphor Server in much the same way that a web browser requests HTML documents. This gives a Dataphor Application the same deployment and maintenance characteristics as an n-tier web solution.

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