Friday, August 22, 2008

Alphablox Features Wish List

Writing to Santa-BM,

Undeniably, Alphablox architecture and component models present a very flexible and powerful of incorporating analytic capability into whatever web-based applications that your enterprise currently maintained.

With greater power comes greater responsiblities are very true indeed. To be up to 80% productive with Alphablox solution, the architect and developer need to face a very steep learning curve especially if their background on design pattern, J2EE web applications, and some-what JSF-type of knowledge are not strong.

To put it in simple form, I see Alphablox as conglomeration of part-of-JSF (There are other JSF competitors, but I wouldn't mention them here since they are not the part of standard J2EE stack) and AJAX suite of technology.

The thing that I like JSF is not just about their wonderful architecture and well defined component framework. The most important is the promised upcoming tool support that allows you (developers or designer) to visual create, debug, test and deploy JSF component. Without this support, it's like .NET Web developer using code editor to create web pages. WYSIWYG? Forget it.

The problem with Alphablox (As of is the missing of these tool supports.
I don't get report designer in DWE design studio. I don't get testing environment for my custom made UI blox. I can't even test my report without actually put them into the server and press F5 key. Of course, some of you might argue and say to me "Please spend some $$ to buy WSAD 6, cheap skate!". Ok, I accepted that suggestion. But the point is DWE as an integrated and promised to be end-to-end BI platform should at least provide a minimal report development support. Look at Microsoft SSRS, althought their report templates are quite limited, at least I can drag a text box component on the report or define the styles of report contents visually, ;-)

Here some constructive suggestions to IBM Alphablox team

* Provide new project types in design studio that do
1. Alphablox Relational Report Creation (With tons of wizard, of course)
2. Alphablox Analytics Report Creation (With tons wizard, of course)
3. Alphablox Cube (With the real time capabilities to see cube data, etc)
- Trust me, Query Builder is really not enough
4. Alphablox Custom Component/UI Component Creation

I wish that next time when I want to customize the behavior of the MemberFilterBlox to inform users that their selection is not valid due to constraints such as security, I only need to :

1. Fire up my design studio
2. Open the Alphablox project that contains the web page that have the specific PresentBlox/MemberFilterBlox,
3. Double click on the blox, brings me a selection list of events to listen


3. Right click on the blox, go to "Customize Event Handler", then "XXX event"

4. Select the event, and then it generates the handler method skeleton for me to put in my code.

All linking between the event handler and the framework event pipelines should be handled internally by the boilerplate, I don't want to be bothered about that.

5. Lastly, from Tool Palette, drag a Message Box dialog out to the editor

6. Skeleton message box server side codes automatically generated for me, I just need to put in the title and message, etc.

7. Press a button/key to preview with live data.

So, think about my imaginative way and compare it to the current way of doing the same thing, which one is more developer friendly and productive you say?

Even better, convert all the bloxs to JSF compliant component or provide a JSF wrapper for them. This will allows any JSF supported IDE to develop Alphablox applications.

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