As an information systems professional, dynamically adapting to the forces that shape your business environment is mission critical. It's not enough to come up with a solution-that solution must be adaptable. Adaptable to changes in the needs of your organization, and in the technology you will use to serve those needs.
You must simultaneously encourage growth in your business, increase inter-departmental communications, and forge closer relationships with your suppliers and customers. In a business and technological environment that's in a constant state of flux, the challenge of building dynamic, adaptable business systems becomes an increasingly complex challenge.
To meet this challenge, your solutions must be flexible enough to accommodate your particular business logic and leverage your investment in information resources. The solutions you develop are critical to the operation of your business. Neuron Data provides a powerful solution for today's application development challenges-solutions with the flexibility to respond to the changes of tomorrow.
The Elements Environment is a component-based development environment for assembling business-critical, distributed applications. Composed of a cross-platform GUI builder, a business rule processor, data access, interoperable and web integration elements and distributed messaging services, the Elements Environment supports various application architectures-from host-based and client/server solutions to distributed computing environments. These components can be used individually to meet specific application development needs or combined together to create an integrated development environment for delivering next-generation business solutions.
Since its founding in 1985, Neuron Data has helped many organizations meet the challenges of a changing business environment. From corporate Fortune 500 to commercial software companies, Neuron Data customers span an array of industries including banking, finance, insurance, health care, telecommunications, government and manufacturing. They take advantage of Neuron Data's proven products and services to deliver the business solutions they need-scheduling, workflow, business process modeling-and take control in a rapidly changing business environment.
The Elements Environment accommodates a wide range of development styles for a diverse and demanding development community, from scripting and visual editors for rapid application development to 3GL and object-oriented techniques for high-end, high-performance applications. The Elements Environment allows fast prototyping with the ability to bring prototypes to industrial-strength applications that can tackle even the most demanding and complex business-critical jobs.
The flexible, open architecture of the Elements Environment provides built-in portability so that developed applications can be deployed rapidly across a department, enterprise or even across enterprise boundaries, regardless of the hardware platforms, operating systems environments, networking configurations, GUIs or databases. Applications developed with the Elements Environment are also easy to maintain. Changes in business processes can easily be incorporated into these applications, providing organizations with an important competitive advantage.
The Elements Environment is designed to address the existing and evolving needs of information technology (IT) professionals. Existing applications easily adapt to new technology. Simple applications can evolve into cross-functional, enterprise business solutions. With the Elements Environment, organizations have a strategic advantage that meets today's development needs, while preparing them for future change.
ELEMENTS ENVIRONMENT COMPONENTS
Neuron Data's Elements Environment is a flexible, component-based application development environment for building distributed, business-critical applications. It consists of portable modules called "Elements" that act as building blocks. Information systems professionals can mix and match Elements to meet their specific application development needs:
OPEN INTERFACE ELEMENT (OIE)
With the OPEN INTERFACE ELEMENT, graphical user interfaces can be created and incorporated into applications with simple point-and-click operations. OIE's easy-to-use GUI builder allows developers to build portable user interfaces that are independent of the windowing environment, whether it be Microsoft Windows 95, Windows NT or Windows 3.1, OS/2 Presentation Manager, OSF/Motif or Macintosh. For a higher level of functionality, developers can create custom GUI objects or use powerful GUI objects available within the Elements Environment, such as the Browser, Toolbar, Notebook or Diagrammer. For example, using the Diagrammer, free-form flow diagrams, such as workflow diagrams, can be easily incorporated into any application.
DATA ACCESS ELEMENT (DAE)
This object-oriented component provides transparent, simultaneous access to enterprise-wide data sources including flat files, relational databases and even data that resides in other applications. The DATA ACCESS ELEMENT allows developers to manage database connections, queries and tables via objects in the application. It separates the logical view of data from physical data sources, making access to heterogeneous databases more consistent. Developers also have the ability to take advantage of database-specific functionality such as stored procedures, triggers and referential integrity.
DISTRIBUTED MESSAGING ELEMENT (DME)
Application components can be partitioned, dynamically configured and reconfigured over various platforms, operating systems and network environments with the DISTRIBUTED MESSAGING ELEMENT. DME provides a unique multi-point messaging architecture using software routing agents that efficiently and automatically route messages among the partitioned modules of an application. It simplifies the development of inter-process communications and allows rapid development of complex multi-tier, distributed applications. The DISTRIBUTED MESSAGING ELEMENT ensures truly distributed applications that remain reliable and scalable regardless of changes in the underlying system or network infrastructure.
INTELLIGENT RULES ELEMENT (IRE)
This rule-based component allows IT professionals to create applications that accurately model and adapt to changes in the business environment, without the complexities of pre-defined program flow control or procedural languages. Developers can effectively capture the business object model as well as the business logic. Rules are maintained as visually accessible entities that dynamically reflect changes in the business environment, making updating and enhancing rules easy. With the INTELLIGENT RULES ELEMENT, decision processes are intelligently automated, bringing significant added value not only to other application components, but also to critical business processes.
WEB ELEMENT (WE)
With the WEB ELEMENT, developers can incorporate the vast resources of the World Wide Web into their business-critical applications. The WEB ELEMENT provides instantly portable Web browser development capability for the growing number of Internet and intranet developers. With the embeddable Web browser and Web-link Navigator, users of Elements Environment applications no longer are required to exit their applications to evoke stand-alone Web browsers. The WEB ELEMENT also supports " OOScript Applets," powerful mini-programs written in Neuron Data's OOScript Language (see Core Services, next page), that transform HTML documents into business-critical applications for use within the corporate intranet.
INTEROPERABLE OBJECTS ELEMENT (IOE)
The INTEROPERABLE OBJECTS ELEMENT provides true object interoperability throughout and beyond the enterprise. IOE is utilized by Neuron Data's OOScript Language to access objects internal to the Elements Environment and external objects, such as Excel spreadsheet objects or any other objects assembled via OLE-automation. The Elements Environment provides a set of Object Servers from which Neuron Data Elements objects can be accessed via drivers to specific object models, such as OLE or CORBA. IOE currently supports the OLE object model for the Microsoft Windows 3.1x, Windows NT and the Windows 95 platforms. These Object Servers also allow Neuron Data objects to be accessed not only by the OOScript Language, but also by other popular languages such as Visual Basic, Java or C/C++. With the INTEROPERABLE OBJECTS ELEMENT, objects of different object models-from internal GUI, data access, business rule and Web objects, to external OLE objects-can be seamlessly integrated and assembled to create enterprise-wide, business-critical applications.
The Elements Environment includes a common set of core services that tightly integrate the components into a unified and consistent development environment:
Visual editors provide a graphical environment for creating and manipulating objects, user interfaces, application logic, data access and business rules. With visual editors, determining interrelationships, states and values is simply a matter of glancing at their graphical representations on the screen.
OOScript is a powerful language created to aid developers in quickly building business-critical applications. This object-oriented, event-driven language combines the performance and functionality of a 3GL with the visual editing techniques of a 4GL. It is compiled as needed at runtime for fast execution, and developers can easily extend the script by integrating custom verbs and events. Consistent across all the Neuron Data Elements, OOScript quickly and effectively integrates GUI objects, data sources, business rules, Web and external objects to create the ultimate development environment.
C and C++ Support
The development environment provides automatic generation of C and C++ code for both application and class definitions. By allowing developers to control or extend applications with either C or C++ API programs, this service reduces coding effort, allows easy customization and promotes code reusability. The C++ classes utilize the full power, productivity and object-oriented features of the C++ language.
Portable Application Services
The Elements Environment supports portable built-in memory and print management, error handling, file I/O, asynchronous event management and string manipulation services to reduce development time spent coding these low-level, platform-specific functions. These services provide portability of the graphical presentation layers as well as the underlying integration layers of an application.
Internationalization features such as character sets, porting, support and rendering, input method editor, standard or native in-place editor/input widgets, DBCS and string manipulation services allow quick and easy porting of applications to any of a dozen single-byte or double-byte foreign languages including Japanese.
The Elements Environment enables developers to create high-level business and process objects that accurately model business policies and procedures, such as customers, documents, products and facilities, and define relationships between them. Also, even the most complicated relationships between GUI objects can be viewed in an intuitive, graphical fashion with the Browser.
STANDS APART FROM THE REST
Because so many organizations face the task of creating new solutions to support a changing business environment, application development tools are in great demand. The Elements Environment stands apart, with an unmatched combination of capabilities:
Today's business professionals cannot afford to develop a different application for every platform used in their organizations. The task is overwhelming, and the costs are prohibitive. The Elements Environment allows developers to build applications that are portable across more than 30 popular hardware platforms and windowing environments. Porting is a simple matter of recompiling and linking. Supported operating environments include Microsoft Windows, Windows NT, IBM OS/2, Apple Macintosh, more than a dozen UNIX variants and Digital operating systems.
Business Process Integration
Many organizations are re-engineering their basic business practices to reduce costs and increase effectiveness. New applications need to go beyond simply presenting information. They must also process and analyze it, applying business rules and knowledge to the information to assist users in making decisions and managing functions. For example, in building credit approval software that processes loan applications, compiles data, and prepares reports, developers can go beyond the GUI and data access components to incorporate business logic. The system can then apply methods and reasoning to the data and actually pre-process the loan application or flag potential problems. By embedding business logic into the functionality of an application, decision processes can be intelligently automated-resulting in increased customer satisfaction and reduced cost of doing business that give organizations a competitive edge.
Openness and Extensibility
Organizations must develop software solutions that facilitate, rather than hinder, change. With the open and extensible architecture of the Elements Environment, organizations can build applications that adapt quickly and easily to change.
The open API allows developers to choose the best technique and language for the job. Moreover, developers can augment the functionality of the Elements Environment itself by integrating additional C and C++ routines, incorporating external databases and libraries or using other software engineering tools such as version control systems or automatic testers. Existing or legacy systems can also be integrated with newer technologies to enable enterprise-wide data access.
The extensive capabilities of the Elements Environment can be employed in applications such as networking, CAD/CAM, multimedia, real-time, financial and manufacturing systems such as MRP. For example, rule-based capabilities can be embedded into a real-time application that controls a financial trading system. This smart application could monitor market changes and react appropriately. With the Elements Environment, this openness and extensibility are inherent in the development environment as well as the deployed application.
Organizations must develop business solutions that accommodate growth. Applications built with the Elements Environment deliver scalable performance and full functionality regardless of growing numbers of users, transactions, data sources or hardware platforms. They accommodate increasingly complex business processes as organizations grow in size, strengthen business partnerships and expand into new markets. Application components can be modified independently of each other and new functions added incrementally-without changing existing components. The Elements Environment provides a foundation that supports growth in all areas of the business environment with industrial-strength performance at all levels.
A Proven Industry Leader
Neuron Data is a proven leader in delivering portable, objected-oriented, client/server development environments. Thousands of developers worldwide already rely on the Elements Environment to support their application development needs, even for their most complex and business-critical applications. Customers include American Express, Chevron, Electronic Arts, Federal Express, Fidelity Investments, General Magic, General Motors, Goodyear, Hewlett-Packard, Japan Airlines, Intergraph, Lloyds, Mannesmann, NASDAQ, Renault, Sony, Structured Dynamics Research Corp., Tele-Communications Inc., US West, Viacom Inc. and numerous government agencies including the Department of Defense, Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Treasury. Headquartered in the Silicon Valley in Mountain View, California, Neuron Data has eight offices in the U.S., offices in London, Frankfurt, Paris and Tokyo, and distributors throughout the world.
To provide additional assistance to its customers, Neuron Data offers a variety of consulting services through its Consulting Services group. Services include prototype development, training, application porting, installation support, quality assurance and other reviews, technical manpower support and project management.
Find out more about how Neuron Data and the Elements Environment can help you meet the challenge of enterprise client/server application development. Call, fax or e-mail Neuron Data today. You can receive information immediately through Neuron Data's faxback service at (415) 943-2762 or through the World Wide Web at http://www.neurondata.com.
Copyright 1996 Neuron Data, Inc. The ELEMENTS ENVIRONMENT, DATA ACCESS ELEMENT,
DISTRIBUTED MESSAGING ELEMENT, INTELLIGENT RULES ELEMENT, INTEROPERABLE OBJECTS
ELEMENT, OPEN INTERFACE ELEMENT, WEB ELEMENT, Open Editor and OOScript are
trademarks of Neuron Data. Other product names are trademarks and/or trade names
of their respective manufacturers.