The evolution of user interface tools for database applications
The recent advances in hardware and enabling software technologies are having profound effect on the development of UI tools for building database applications.
In this tutorial, we will first give a historical account of the evolution of DB UI tools since the early seventies in terms of database models, database languages, database development tools (Visual 4GL), and end user graphical tools. As the users of SQL were primarily application developers, the tools were built directed to this clientele. Therefore, the design factors for building programmers' tools were focused on increasing their productivity.
Advent of PC database management systems, saw the metamorphism of this clientele to less sophisticated users. These non-programmers (i.e., power users) who wish to build their applications required different kinds of tools and the PC database industry lead this thrust. We address the design factors in both these types of tools and contrast them.
In doing the above, we will review and compare some of the current environments in terms of their power, functionality, levels of abstraction and ease of use. This will include, but is not limited to, such products or research prototypes as: Paradox, Access, 4GL Windows, PowerSoft, Prograph, ICBE (being prototyped at HP Labs).
Finally, we will extrapolate on how this UI technology will be evolving in the future specifically into the areas of entertainment and mobile personal appliances.