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-- by Martin Heller
Today everybody wants to make databases accessible from the Web. You can do this in many ways, using a bewildering variety of tools and technologies. But most methods take quite a bit of work and skill to master. What you really want is to press a "Web-enable" button and magically generate a Web version of your existing database application.
Clarion Internet Connect is a stab at that magic Web-enable button, at least for Clarion applications. The beta version we tested makes it remarkably easy to prepare an application for the Web. You simply add a template to your application, set a few options, rebuild the application, and copy application and database files to a Web-server directory. Amazingly, the upgraded application will continue to work normally if started as a Windows application, or it will act as a database server application if invoked by the Web server.
Of course, the program is not without its hitches. You can't use just any Web server-Clarion Internet Connect applications work only with Clarion Application Broker, a specialized Web server that costs an additional $999. However, that doesn't mean you have to give up your present Web server software. You can configure Application Broker to listen at an alternate server port and serve up the Clarion applications, while your present Web server runs in parallel and supplies standard HTTP services.
The Application Broker dynamically translates Clarion Internet Connect's Windows user interface into HTML and Java. Internet Connect can handle all the standard GUI elements, but won't transform any custom interface objects you're using. So menu picks in the original application become HTML hyperlinks, toolbars become HTML buttons, and native database-browsing screens become Java database-browsing screens. Any Java-enabled Web browser can view the resulting Web pages.
Sample Internet Connect applications worked pretty much like the original Clarion for Windows applications, only slower. Even over a local area network, the Web applications lack the snappy feel of the originals. They aren't especially pretty, either.
Borland's IntraBuilder is still the best choice if you work with SQL databases on the Web. IntraBuilder is easier to use than Internet Connect and performs better for most people whose sole object is to Web-enable a database.
IntraBuilder, therefore, retains its position on our WinList of recommended products. However, if you already have Clarion applications, Internet Connect is certainly the fastest way to put them on the Net.