New IDC Top Line report – 4GLs more prevalent than you think

Dismissed as a vestige of computing history by some, lauded as the most efficient development environment for business applications by others, this IDC “Top Line” report redresses the bar for 4GLs and provides valuable insight into the behind-the-scenes reality of many development shops.

This recent white paper adapted from IDC’s worldwide Software Developer Collaborative study of IT professionals illustrates the current commitment to IBM Informix 4GL technology.

Over 10.8% of individuals across varied company types and sizes, industries, and geographies reported using IBM Informix 4GL technology “occasionally” to “always”. Even more noteworthy is the 37.6% of respondents from value-added reseller (VAR) and other software distributor organizations that reported being engaged with this technology “occasionally” to “always” and over 20% of this segment of the respondent base reported using this technology “very often” or “always”.

With a larger than usual sample size, 3,240 responsdants representing a broad cross-section of IT managers, architects, developers, data and QA specialists responded to the study.

As a general category, fourth-generation languages (4GLs) remain an important component of the overall development landscape,garnering a respectable share of use. 4GL programming languages are specifically designed to facilitate the rapid development of business applications by abstracting away from the user the need to know and apply lower-level programming and system commands. These frameworks can help reduce complexity and promote consistency across the development effort, in turn allowing for faster time to market with quality software applications.
Many mission-critical business solutions running today have been built and rely on 4GL technology. Some tools that support these languages have persisted for decades, evolving with market demands and advancing to address the various types of technologies that interface with these application environments. 4GL tools provide frameworks that let users enter commands using simpler, more business-oriented terms, with facilities to rapidly design and generate screens and reports. These features, and others, are geared to ease access and use of specific databases and client interfaces, along with query language and integrated database management capabilities. Most of these technologies have expanded to provide richer GUI support, interactive validation and debugging services, and performance enhancement mechanisms.