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WinLab Reviews
IntraBuilder 1.0
Build Live Web Data with Ease

-- by Serdar Yegulalp

Build databases and HTML interfaces for your data quickly and easily with Borland's IntraBuilder. Included are tools for creating everything from JavaScript forms to SQL queries to be hosted on your Windows NT or Windows 95 Web server.

I tested a second-stage beta of the Standard version-a free download from Borland (approximately 7.5MB). Many of the Help features were not yet available, although the program feature set was almost completely implemented. Borland will market the product in three distinct versions: Standard for SOHO or individual users, Professional for power users, and Client/Server for Enterprise use.

IntraBuilder needs a Web server to work properly, but it doesn't have to operate across the whole Internet. It can work in local loopback mode, too, using the 127.0.0.1 or local host names.

IntraBuilder comes with comprehensive instructions about how to configure the program to work with all the most popular Web servers, including Netscape's FastTrack 2.0, O'Reilly's WebSite and Microsoft's Peer Web Services. I tried out both Peer Web Services and WebSite 1.1e, and IntraBuilder configured both correctly in less than 2 minutes. You just need to create a couple of virtual directories and set a few server-side options.

Fire up IntraBuilder and you're presented with a tabbed box named the IntraBuilder Explorer. Explorer holds all of the resources you can work with under IntraBuilder, including JavaScript forms, reports, databases, Java scripts, images and SQL queries. You can also use the Explorer to browse directories with such files in them, and filter the file lists with wildcards as well.

IntraBuilder works in two ways: The program can design reports and data from scratch, or can work with Borland's "Experts" (their version of wizards) to build home pages, reports, tables or JavaScript forms.

The underlying data can be stored in almost any format you want: Paradox, Visual dBASE, Oracle, IntraBuilder, MS SQL Server, Sybase and Microsoft Access with ODBC. Although the data-editing functions are pretty rudimentary, it can be edited in IntraBuilder. Ideally, create the data in the database of your choice, and then use that as the data manager.

The Form Designer permits you to interactively build JavaScript forms. A floating toolbox lets you choose all the basic form elements-buttons, radio switches, text boxes-as well as JavaScript-specific elements (such as password boxes, Java applets or even ActiveX controls)

The Report Designer works in much the same way as the Form Designer. In addition, you can group data and create aggregate data, for totals columns and such. The Form Designer also introduces an innovation that Borland calls the "self-evaluating code block," which is simply a block of code that is evaluated every time the item it's attached to is printed. Every HTML formatting function can be set by the programmer either at design time or print time.

One feature that's bound to interest high-level programmers is the Form Designer's ability to do visual inheritance and subclassing. By creating a new class of form, which can be done with the provided design tool, you can also create a template for new forms.

Creating SQL queries is done visually by taking fields from needed tables and specifying arguments for each. A valid SQL query is automatically generated based on your parameters. Experts can also hand-code SQL statements and verify them using a scratchpad-like editor. Editing JavaScript code works much the same way-another scratchpad-like tool lets you edit and evaluate code and expressions on the fly. Programmers familiar with the way live expressions can be evaluated in Visual Basic will have no trouble diving in and making use of this tool.

The heart of IntraBuilder's online activity is the CGI Broker Service, a background application that runs side by side with whatever Web server you're using. This application redirects all CGI calls that access the database. Once turned on, it runs relatively maintenance-free. You need only change your site's data and the JavaScript forms.

The BDE Configuration Utility allows you to examine which ODBC drivers are installed in your system and change settings for each of them: cache time, maximum query time, cache directory, and so on. You can also add and remove ODBC drivers.

IntraBuilder's Standard version doesn't contain a built-in HTML editor, but you can launch one through the IntraBuilder Explorer. As an added bonus for large users, Borland plans to bundle Netscape Navigator Gold with the Professional and Client/Server editions of IntraBuilder.

Obvious beta deficiencies aside, IntraBuilder stands as a potentially indispensable tool if you plan to make live data available through Windows-based Web servers.

W Info File

IntraBuilder 1.0
Price: $99.95; Professional, $499.95; Client/Server, $1,995
Pros: Simple to use; rapid development
Cons: Standard version lacks HTML editor
Platforms: 95, NT
Borland International
800-331-0877, 408-431-1000
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.


(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 156.)