In last week’s
article on the importance of and need for Guam’s Web developers to get in touch
with their programming side, I mentioned a variety of vendor development
application which can help you design more intelligent, more self-sufficient
business solutions. Specifically, I mentioned two of the more popular programs
for building such sites,
Microsoft’s Visual InterDev 6 and
Well, assumption is the mother of all mistakes, so label me with a “MY BAD” tag
for thinking that everyone would know the difference between the two. I'm here
as an unbiased developer...is having gone through growing pains and learning
curves just like the next guy.
I’ve got lots of e-mail in the past week from people wanting
to know exactly what these programs are and what they are capable of,
including some from the Web development community itself asking which one is
better to run for their own projects. So in this week’s Tech Talk, we’re
going to look at these two platforms and you can see for yourself which one
fits your own needs better as a developer.
Basically, both products are
designed to help you as a developer create, manage, maintain, and expand
sites with dynamic content (such as information stored in a database), using
back-end tools. The programs are based on a simple programming principle:
RAD (rapid applications development). They take the arduous task of writing
hundreds of lines of code out of the picture by automating the “hard parts”
and streamlining the means by which you can manage your Web application.
Thus, more advanced programming is the key to making these sites work in
being able to display information, store user information, control user
sessions, and a variety of other applications, using a combination of
client-side and server-side scripting, based on specific scripting languages.
And this means more complex code to write. And lots of it.
The major advantage that these type of programs provide here is developing Web
applications, such as e-commerce systems (or in the case of KUAM.COM,
Two: Visual InterDev vs. UltraDev
Microsoft Visual InterDev 6
DreamWeaver UltraDev 4
Cost (full version)
If you’re an
experienced developer, this would be the choice for you.
Unfortunately, most Guam devs aren’t. While InterDev does a decent job
of inserting code for certain functions, you’ll need to know how to
write good, solid code on your own to get the most out of the program.
helpful in this sense. The AutoComplete and ToolTip sections as you
write code are also helpful, something UD is missing.
The online documentation
that ships with the product is fantastic for the newbie. Unlike
InterDev, the tutorial is more intuitive and detailed, and the user
interface is a bit easier to learn, with clean, dockable windows.
The color coding method
for UD is a bit better than InterDev, highlighting more syntax, and
making it easier to track syntactical mistakes.
generation, SQL statement creation and presentation through Active
Data Pages. Good for simple queries. Again, best use would be if the
developer knows scripting syntax by hand.
The very reason why
UltraDev was created – to make the complex task of Web database
management simple. Outstanding ability to quickly create database
connections and generate dynamic pages from recordsets. Added built-in
features such as repeat regions, paging through recordsets. Very
powerful and yet still flexible.
Provides everything from
automated site layout and navigation. Critics have concerns about the
overuse of templates, but hey...they work. Again, works best when used
with other Microsoft apps.
Pretty much the same
features, minus the interoperability with other
ASP, JSP, ColdFusion
Works better in
large-to-enterprise teams, can integrate with MS Visual SourceSafe for
versioning control. Team-wide development is encouraged for building
both public Web and distributed applications for intranet/LAN
Better for single-person
development, although somewhat scalable. Uses its own built-in
document check-in, check-out method to preserve code.
An inline debugging
utility and Microsoft Script Editor make the inevitable task of
debugging your apps a bit more manageable. Makes writing dynamic apps
at design-time or run-time better.
You basically rely
on the error-reporting methods of your developmental platforms.
As with most Microsoft
products, VID’s true magic is achieved works best with other MS
products. This isn’t so bad, as there are little alternatives in
enterprise computing on Guam for Web development.
Works fluidly in
combination with other Macromedia applications like Flash or
Fireworks, or completely by itself.
I consistently recommend minimizing idiosyncratic debugging chores and subtle
but oh-so-irritating differences in proprietary code that ultimately result from
using different platforms by should always try to maintain a single app
throughout the development process. The online documentation is more complete,
the tutorial is more intuitive (big surprise there), and the user interface is a
bit easier to learn.
The only marginal difference for developing database-driven apps would be the
fact that should you edit the code directly in UltraDev, it doesn't have the
AutoComplete and ToolTips features about syntax and structure that Visual
InterDev does. This is a little harder for developers just getting into
scripting. But, UltraDev does do a more aesthetically pleasant job of coloring
makes debugging easier.
Also, newer features in UltraDev like password protection for user
authentication are really easy, and the UltraDev Extensions, installable modules
created by developers all over the world to enhance the functionality of the
core program are really helpful.
Now for the bad news. UltraDev’s great features, like
automated insert, update and delete SQL statements for manipulating database
records, as well as the aforementioned user authentication, and Repeat
Region features to page through a recordset are great, and really save time.
So, if you're making the move on an existing site, it's a bit of a
toughie...but one can still display a recordset with Repeat Regions, and it
works beautifully. And painlessly. You just lose some of the features that
Also, UltraDev is great for doing database-driven sites, but for larger,
more complex sites requiring object manipulation and other functions of ASP,
Visual InterDev is generally better. Tight integration with the other apps
in Visual Studio,
Internet Information Server are just better for distributed applications
development like COM/DCOM. Visual InterDev’s database management tool is
also good, but better if you're using an enterprise database server, like
Microsoft SQL Server,
not a standalone database application such as
UltraDev is the opposite - better for smaller databases...larger, more
complex ones might be a task within itself. But, with the recent
merger of Macromedia with
Allaire Corporation, more and more
push should be behind ColdFusion as the select enterprise-level database
application and database server.
The UltraDev 4 user interface
Visual InterDev 6's integrated development
Also, the nature of the job itself sheds light on which product is better.
Being in the online news business, RAD is key for me...we have to turn out
something really effective, really special, really fast, really often. For
mundane and repetitive tasks such as creating database connections and putting
info up quick, it is imperative that we have tools which let us manage a large
amount of data - and displaying it - in a timely manner.
So in conclusion, for quick database site creation (or for beginners), UltraDev
has the advantage. For larger projects requiring manipulation of other
specific ASP objects outside of database integration, Visual InterDev is far
better. It’s up to you to make the decision on what your level of
development is and what will work best in your development environment – solo or
collaborative? Self-hosting or shared? ASP or another format? Public
or distributed in an isolated environment?
Just keep in mind the differences you'll run into upon deployment of your