Because it makes business sense! If you could cut your business data application development cycle down by as much as 90%, and enable one full-stack developer to do the work that typically would need 3 or more specialists (database developer + back-end web services developer + front end web developer + QA for each). That’s what I call a good set of reasons. And … with very little downside.
Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools have been around for many years and in all different computing eras, from mainframe to minicomputer, and client server to web. Powerbuilder was one of my favorites from the early days of client/server because it was so amazingly fast to build bug free Windows applications talking to complex enterprise grade SQL databases. On the mini platform, I had many great times working with PACE on the Wang VS. They both did a full round trip soup to nuts rapid application build, taking care of all the plumbing in a tight yet flexible and extensible way that hasn’t really been equalled since. And that meant that our QA was focused on did the application meet the business requirements? Not on did a page or window render correctly! Not only was our development cycle faster, cheaper, better, but we had a fraction of the QA people needed too. Usually the business analyst/requirements team could do the needed QA.
But aren’t RAD tools just CRUD assemblers? No. absolutely not. Simple CRUD tools like Rails, or PHP Cake are better described as skeletons that you can edit with any text editor, and they save you some effort. But you are still writing a lot of code by hand. Code libraries are simply that too… libraries you incorporate in your code.
PHPRunner, and its sibling product ASPRunner, from XLineSoft, essentially inspect your database tables and relations and can generate a fully functional “80%” application in minutes. The editing tool makes it full round trip, as you simply edit the fields using simple editors to choose fields on pages, set security options, change field labels in multiple languages, and so on. then hit “build”, and you are done again.
It comes with jQuery embedded, so that’s easy to tap into for any custom DOM tweaking, or Ajax manipulations. Although those are rarely needed.
If you are developing a non-standard web page user interface, then PHPRunner is not for that application. But if your application is a data driven application such as is typical in 90% or more of regular line of business applications, then it is ideal. And there are many public facing websites that are still data driven applications, such as user portals, document systems, claims systems, and so on. LOL! I even put a PHPRunner application into a facebook newsfeed and a WordPress page recently! If you wanted to build a custom CRM application, you could do it in PHPRunner in just a week or two. fully integrated with Active Directory. Secure with user roles, logins, password set/reset features, and auditing and logging which will stand up to a HIPAA or HiTECH or OWASP Top 10 security review.
The generated applications can be styled if you wish to, and they are browser/device sensitive and will generate a mobile ready application in parallel to your desktop browser version. And you can customize those mobile layouts by device size (phone, tablet, size of screen).
And best of all… it just works! Its a complete click-and-pick environment for just about everything you need to do related to web forms and reports and hooking that all up to the database. No coding bugs except for the 10% of code that you will typically write. Which is where the fun comes in. For a 50 entity database, I could turn out a complete finished application from about two weeks after the database schema design was ‘set’. And as always happens, the schema changes during development, as requirements are discovered. No problem. Because PHPRunner will sync with your schema and help support all those changes as they happen.
Yes, it comes with a full suite of edit controls, field validations, data integrity, reporting dashboards, with drill downs, import/export integration with Excel/Word/PDF, custom CSS colors and look… If you miss the productivity you once had in client server days with Powerbuilder, PHPRunner brings it all back and right up to date. I use PHPRunner for prototyping to solidify requirements, and I use if for full web development.
Warp speed serious enterprise grade rapid application development. this is not a toy, and it will take you a few days to get started, and then like any toolset, weeks or months to learn how to throw it around. But if you have a database designer mindset, it will come naturally. and there are now plenty of tutorials and articles on how to enhance and build upon the basic platform.