Genero Web Client GA – A word from CEO

Dear Customer and Partner,

I am pleased to announce today the General Availability of the Genero Web Client (GWC). We have been working very closely with you over the last few months and have incorporated many of your ideas. We feel this is a solid first release thanks to your commitment and efforts during the Early Access Program (EAP).

For those of you that missed the EAP, it is worth recalling the objectives of this release; the Genero Web Client simply stated, will enable your existing Genero Windows, MAC OSX or ASCII application to be quickly deployed over the Internet using an HTML browser, without the need for special plug-ins, applets, or Active-X controls. We wanted a product that would enhance your ability to customize and so improve the end-user ergonomic experience. With that in mind, we have greatly extended our widget support over the Business Development Suite Web Front End for those of you that know it.

That’s quite a feat and we encourage you to take a closer look if you haven’t already done so. You will broaden your application’s horizons and increase your market opportunity.


Jean-Georges Schwartz

1. Customizing Applications for the Web

The GWC offers two major modes for rendering pages, forms or windows:

1. Automatic Layout Mode : the GWC renders standard .per form description files and sends the resulting HTML, CSS2 (Cascading Style Sheets, Level 2) and Javascript to the browser. If a more sophisticated appearance is desired, developers can apply their own CSS2 to further customize the user interface. The GWC can also draw on other associated DVM files to further automate the creative process; files such as: .4ad – specifying actions defaults and .4tb – defining toolbars all comprise information useful to the GWC. The advantages of such an approach are a) instant results and b) a near ‘desktop look and feel’.

The way to customize pages in this is…

… By using CSS – this is the best way to unleash the power of the W3C’s CSS2 on your Four J’s application. CSS is an easy and powerful way of changing the appearance of your form through size, colour, fonts, backgrounds and position. A CSS style sheet can be specific to one page or shared by several pages. It can also be shared by several applications. Style sheets allow you to determine the ‘look and feel’ for the whole page or just subsets thereof. Tools such as Macromedia’s Dreamweaver or TopStyle can be used to easily create and edit CSS2 files.

The second mode uses template layouts.

2. Template Layout Mode: the GWC can now use a template file for page layout. Use this method if you need complete control over your customization. If you wish to totally redesign your ‘look and feel’, this is the best way to go. Template layouts render pages with a web ‘look and feel’ rather than the ‘desktop look and feel’ delivered by the Automatic Layout Mode.

Basic template principles:

The principle of using templates is now well practised by seasoned web developers. The GWC provides several benefits above and beyond standard template syntax however:

a. separate business logic from presentation – leave the user interface to design specialists and the business logic to the business analysts,

b. code instructions and references within HTML, as with asp, php and jsp technologies,

c. design pages simply and freely; ‘just add widgets’,

d. innovate beyond other template syntax technologies and support industry HTML editors such as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Golive,

e. view unprocessed templates using standard editors or browsers without breaks as is the case in traditional php, asp and jsp,

f. develop templates in a high-level language syntax that conforms to the XML standard – not the case with php and asp,

It is also possible to mix Automatic and Template modes within the same page, either totally or in a limited way. The developer is left with the freedom to choose the granularity with which customization is executed. In this way, customization can be planned progressively, starting with an ‘automatic’ approach, gradually working towards ‘templates’. This will allow developers to rollout web applications quickly from existing forms and then fine tune layouts and design over time. By adding Javascript to templates pages, it is easy to modify or adapt the standard ‘look and feel’. Here again, these modifications can be done at the level of the entire application, the page or sub-page. Javascript APIs offer a limited but powerful alternative for connecting 4GL actions to externally rendered buttons. An example of this would be to design a Macromedia Flash ‘movie’ toolbar, which then connects to application program modules.

2. Improved Desktop Interaction and Ergonomics

Thanks to the implementation within the GWC of HTML 4.01, CSS2 and Javascript standards, it is able to render complex widgets and containers in addition to the standard ones often found in web forms:

  • true field-by-field data validation with the server
    • BEFORE and AFTER field support become a reality over the web,
    • inefficient ‘page reloads’ are avoided when server validates between fields.
  • server can update data on the page without reloading the whole page
  • real menus can be added to web pages,
  • complex widgets are available, table containers look like real tables,

3. Genero Desktop Client (GDC) Widget Support

All Genero Desktop Client widgets and containers are supported. Due to browser limitations however, some of them will not support all features; it is not possible to hide, resize and swap columns in tables for example. The following GDC features are not supported by the GWC:

  • The MDI model – incompatible with web functionality,
  • Today’s Canvas – a next generation Canvas is being developed and this will be integrated in a future release.
  • Genero Desktop Client ‘styles’ – the GWC works with CSS2 styles, which offers greater flexibility within browsers.

4. Browser Support

The first release of the GWC will comprise:

  • Full support for Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.5 (no longer supported by Microsoft – we recommend you upgrade) and version 6,

Full support for Mozilla based browsers:

  • Mozilla 1.7 and greater (1.6 is supported but there are a few small rendering glitches on GWC pages),
  • Any browser from the Mozilla 1.7 base including :
    • Camino 0.8 and greater (for the Mac)
    • Netscape 7.2 and greater
    • FireFox 0.9 and greater
  • N.B.
    •  Mozilla 1.7 is available on Mandrake and Red Hat and the very latest versions of Linux,
    • other Linuxes may come with Mozilla 1.6,
    • FireFox 0.9+.will be available with upcoming versions of Linux.

5. Connectivity

The first available release will come with:

  • an ISAPI connector ( for Microsoft IIS web server )
  • a CGI connector ( for all other web servers, Apache, Windows and Linux )