General Interface 3.5 is available either in an open source format or via a paid, enterprise-licence agreement that includes support services.
“The 3.5 release focused on a host of performance enhancements across the entire product,” says Kevin Hakman, director of developer evangelism at Tibco.
The product is used for building rich internet AJAX applications, primarily behind-the-firewall business systems running in a browser. It has more than 100 ready-made AJAX components and visual tools for assimilating those components into applications screens and connecting them to data services, Hakman says.
“It’s a WYSIWYG environment. It’s substantially faster to assemble applications than using code,” says Hakman.
Featured in version 3.5 is faster data display and a new jsx3.gui. Table class renders view-only data quickly while providing sorting, selection, and other interactions. Render times have also been improved via synchronous rendering of content in containers, to help components get on-screen sooner, Tibco says. Performance optimisations for Internet Explorer 6 also are included.
A benchmarks toolbar in General Interface 3.5 at the bottom of component files lets developers know the file size, load and render times, and HTML size. This assists with optimisation in the development process.
An enhanced debug build feature provides extra author-time feedback and tips such as notifications for redundant paint calls, says Tibco. Developers receive feedback about code so that they do not render the same component multiple times, says Hakman.
A context-sensitive help system is featured, also. “It automatically takes you to the subsection of the documentation related to the area of the product that you’re using,” Hakman says.
Vector-drawing APIs have been made easier to use. Developers can create lines, arcs, and other shapes and fills with APIs while General Interface renders them as VML for Internet Explorer and SVG for Firefox.
General Interface has served as an interface to Tibco’s middleware, but it also has value on its own, says analyst Ray Valdes, research director for web services at Gartner. The product stands out in the AJAX and rich internet applications market, he says.
“It’s a crowded and dynamic and fragmented market sector, and they have one of the leading products,” Valdes says.