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Autobahn II Version 3

Speedware Ltd.
9999 Cavendish Blvd. Suite 100
St. Laurent, QC, Canada, H4M 2X5
Phone: 800.361.6782
Fax: 514.747.3380
Web: www.speedware.com

Autobahn II includes all the developer and server software required to develop and deploy your Autobahn application. It will still require a Web server running in your network, and this Web server is not supplied by Speedware. If you don’t already have one, the Apache Web server is a good choice at www.apache.org.

Autobahn is priced at $9,995 unlimited run time on one named server, unlimited developers on one named machine. Support is $5,000 per year and gets you access to the Speedware knowledge base, software upgrades, and a four-hour call back guarantee. Training on-site is $12,500 for five days; a public course at Speedware is $2,000 per seat, plus expenses for either. An accelerated course is $7,500 for three days on-site, at Speedware it’s $1,200 per seat. Curriculum is on the Speedware Web site. All prices are in US dollars.



September 2000

Autobahn puts Web development in high gear

Dynamic Page Wizard leads Speedware application suite to new level

Review by Shawn Gordon

With Version 3 of Autobahn II, Speedware has taken this product to a whole new level. You now have a visual design tool (more on that later) that lets you map out your entire application and create links between the pages as well as substitution variables and embedded Speedware logic for processing. You can execute pre-written speedware Report and Logic sections from within your application as well, allowing you to reuse your code in different environments and formats. The Logic sections are particularly useful in this regard, because they allow you to encapsulate business logic rules easily.

So the newest version of Autobahn II allows you to quickly and easily build interactive Web sites that work with data repositories on your various servers. Speedware is very data-centric, and has a sophisticated and flexible language that will make it simple to do pretty much anything you want.

Because Speedware and Autobahn run on a number of HP platforms, if you write your code not to be system-specific, you will be able to move these Web applications around from server to server with relative ease. I think this makes the investment in the technology a pretty sound one.

How does it work?

First there are the servers, which include your Web server, the Autobahn server and the Speedware Resource Manager — these pretty much just run in the background. The more interesting aspect is the Autobahn Designer. The Designer has four different aspects. First is the Application Map: this displays a graphical representation of the HTML pages of your Speedware Autobahn application and the links between the pages. Next is the Code Editor, which is just a text editor to work on the Speedware code.

The HTML Viewer is an integrated Web browser that will allow you to see the application’s HTML pages the way the end user will see them, and finally there’s the Log Window. This window displays system information regarding logging onto the repository server, or an application, and compiling applications. It provides an easy means to trace system activities and spot and resolve errors in your application development process. Figure 1 shows an example of the different windows.

So Autobahn is basically a server side scripting environment that has a very robust language associated with it. Autobahn also maintains “state”, so it remembers who you are and what you are doing. This doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, but back when I looked at the original Autobahn about five years ago, it was pretty significant.


The Dynamic Page Wizard is an extremely cool tool that will pretty much build a whole application for you quickly. All you have to do is point the Wizard at a data repository and select the tables you are interested in, and the data items you want. You can then select Query criteria for the table. You can skip this part, but if you want to be able to customize the type of query used on the page, then this is the place.

That is pretty much it — you click the done button, and it generates all the HTML and Speedware code generated required to have a fully functioning interactive Web page that will let you add, delete, inquire and modify data in your table. This is very, very slick.

The thing that is a bit squirrely to get used to at first is the intermingling of HTML with Speedware, as well as some of the Speedware pre-processor directives that will be put in the HTML. If you think of the HTML as a template at this point, you are able to place variables and directives into the code that will be processed on the server into HTML before presentation on the client.

I really liked the visual application map that let you draw connections between pages and get automatic links. It was fun to switch things around and see how it affected the Web site. I suppose this is similar to MS FrontPage and Trellix for getting a site map.

Installation and Documentation

I installed this strictly on a Windows machine, as I wanted to streamline the testing process. You can have the Autobahn server running on Unix, MPE or NT. Installation was from a CD, but I needed to talk with tech support to get through all the prompts correctly. I also needed to download and install the Apache Web server for my Win98 machine. You will need to have a Web server regardless of the server platform, and Autobahn supports a wide range of different Web servers. I found Apache, which runs on the e3000, a good one to use.

The installation guide comes as a printed manual as well as the Release Notes. Everything else is in PDF on a CD. I found that Speedware had done an excellent job with the PDF documents, making them easy to navigate and read. The only real problem I encountered was that I was working with aVersion 3 where the online documentation had not been totally updated yet. Other than that, it was well written and easy to work with.

There is some infrastructure that must be in place before you try to do anything. As mentioned earlier, your Web server needs to be running, the Autobahn server needs to be running, and the Speedware Resource Manager needs to be running. On Windows, these will all be running under a DOS window.

The TestDrive

This might sound funny, but there is entirely too much security in Autobahn. You have to remember all sorts of names and passwords and connections to various servers and applications and repositories. It’s just a lot of work to get anything started, more than it should be for how easy it is once you get into the Designer. To show you what I mean, here is a copy of the steps in the Getting Started guide.

To open your application just do the following:

1. From the File menu, select Access Wizard. The Access Wizard starts, and displays the Repository Serverlogin dialog.

2. Make sure your SRM Database, User Name and Password are entered correctly, and click Next. The Connect to a Repository dialog is displayed.

3. Select Open an Existing Repository and click Next. The Open Repository dialog is displayed, listing all of the available repositories.

4. Highlight your repository GetStartRep and click Next. The Connect to an Application dialog is displayed.

5. Select Open an existing Application and click Next. The Open Application dialog is displayed, listing all of the available applications.

6. Select your application GetStartApp and click Finish.

Only some of the icons have balloon help on them, and this can be frustrating when you are trying to find a function. Again the difference between the documentation and the application made this tough to get through.

The Database Workshop is a very cool tool, and reminds me a bit of the original Speedware Designer where you could develop your application without having to worry about the database, and the base would be created for you. This isn’t quite that haphazard, however. You can select from a variety of database types, such as Allbase, CISAM, DB2, flat, IMAGE, indexed, Informix, KSAM, KSAMXL, ODBC, Oracle, RMCobol and Sybase.

I took notice of the very complete coverage of the MPE operating system, with all of the file types you would want to use as a data repository. I don’t know what it would do with a MSG file, but it probably doesn’t matter.

When I was using the Database Workshop, I created a field that was a type DATE2000, and left the default bytes at 10. I figured that the wizard would set everything up so that the date would be correct, but it failed the validation. I had to keep changing the values based on prompts from the program. Basically the program told me what to put in, and was happy once I put it in. Why it wouldn’t put it in itself is beyond me.

Despite some of these frustrations, I was able to build some small sample applications quickly. I didn’t have a specific project that I needed to do, so I was just making things up off the top of my head. I find that random battering of software makes for some good testing. See Figure 2 for an example of the database wizard.


There is a learning curve with Autobahn, so I would suggest taking a training class and working with Speedware to get your application started. Given the modest cost of the product, it is certainly time and money well spent. Being familiar with Speedware (which I am) and how Designer works, will certainly speed the learning process, but it’s not required. In my experience, people can be taught Speedware with relative ease.

Autobahn is an exciting application. I think it’s a few cogs shy of being all it can be, but given the quantum leap forward in this release, it will get there soon. That’s not to say that it isn’t ready for prime time, because it is.

This is really a neat application, one that helps to speed the development of e3000 Web sites dramatically. This is certainly worthy of review if you are looking at building Web infrastructure that accesses your e3000 data on any number of platforms.

Shawn Gordon, whose S.M. Gordon & Associates firm supplies HP 3000 utilities, has worked with 3000s since 1983.



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