Oracle's Power Objects aimed at intranets

Oracle is about to announce an upgrade of its Power Objects visual development tool that adds the capability to create applications that sport a Web-browser front end.

Looking to tap into the market of Basic developers, Oracle is readying an upgrade of its Power Objects visual development tool that adds the capability to create applications that sport a Web-browser front end. Oracle Power Objects, Version 2.0, which is slated for general availability in November, will provide the capability to create application front ends as Power Objects Plug-Ins, which can be downloaded and run in Netscape's Navigator, Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Oracle's own PowerBrowser, according to Neil Morgan, product manager, in Redwood Shores, California.

Version 2.0 also beefs up the tool's Windows support with a 32-bit version for Windows 95 and Windows NT. Macintosh and Power Mac versions are slated for November releases as well.

The upgrade also allows Power Objects applications to act as ActiveX containers, Morgan says. Power Objects Plug-Ins will have low resource requirements, generally occupying less than 1MB, according to Morgan.

Oracle's Java plans are less clear; it is mulling over whether to release a separate Java environment or fold Java output capabilities into Power Objects, according to Morgan.

"They're not unique in that," says Peggy Ledvina, an analyst at the Meta Group, based in Stamford, Connecticut. "A lot of tools vendors will support Java eventually, but you need to have a Java just-in-time compiler at the desktop, which doesn't exist in very many places. If you put Java support out there now, developers will see slow applications and that would reflect badly on the tool."

Power Objects, Version 2.0, will include the Personal Oracle Lite, Version 2.3, database, which takes about 1Mb of memory and 5Mb of disk space and has bidirectional replication with Oracle7 databases. Power Objects will include Crystal Reports, Version 5.0 Professional, which presents data in HTML and Intersol's ODBC and native database-driver set.

Although Oracle originally pitched Power Objects as a Microsoft Visual Basic killer, the company's biggest challenge is to gain a presence beyond its captive audience, according to Ledvina.

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