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Viságe is the latest descendant of a project that stamina software started in 1994. The initial goal of the Viságe project was to produce an intelligent terminal emulation product that would allow us to create graphical interface widgets under the control of our multi-valued programs.

As our applications were developed with the our own 4GL tools, our intention was to have a single code base that would be able to support both our traditional terminal users, as well as a new class of user that would use a PC and interact with our software via a Graphical User Interface.

We had a number of false starts and setbacks over the next few years, and learnt a lot about techniques and technologies that didn't work. We had moved from the world of 16-bit Windows 3.11 to the allure of 32-bit computing under Windows 95, and migrated from the sluggish world of interpretive Visual Basic to the speed and grace of the Borland Delphi environment.

Eventually we did get a version of this product operating, but it never saw the light of day outside of our development facility. Whilst it performed as specified, and allowed us to control the creation of Windows interface widgets, the resultant applications were obviously not REAL Windows programs.

Using today's terminology we had created a type of hybrid screen scraper technology that was doomed to fail, because by limiting ourselves to our 80 x 24 green screen heritage we had fallen well short of realizing the full potential of the PC phenomenon.

We entered a tumultuous period that resulted in a number of hard decisions being made, and also saw us adopt a somewhat radical stance in terms of technology.

Undoubtedly the hardest decision that we made was abandoning the notion of supporting green screens indefinitely into the future. It was obvious that in order for us to be able to create solutions that could effectively compete in the mainstream we could not be confined by the screen limitations of our past heritage.

We also decided that rather than developing our own proprietary mechanism for creating screens we should look at adopting the new HTML 3.2 recommendations that were at the RFC (and there were also some early papers about a subset of SGML - this was later to become XML).

At this time Microsoft had released Internet Explorer 3.0, and anyone who had heard of HTML probably associated it with a printer, or if they were in the know with slow connections to the Internet.

The target environment we were looking at would see us deploy HTML over a high speed (10Mbps at that time) LAN rather than the Internet, so speed was not a major consideration, and the possibility of using script in the browser for client side processing and customization was a BIG attraction.

However, we now had to develop middleware that could talk to a browser, multi-valued host routines for handling communications and ticklish issues like the management of state, and also re-work techniques that would enable us to perform as much processing as possible on the client workstation.

We used code and techniques from a multitude of weird and seemingly unrelated interface projects we had done over the years, like document scanners, radio frequency portable data entry units, real time data collection from analogue and digital devices, and of course the core Viságe project itself up until that time.

Initially we developed a tool set that could be used with any web development tool via the clipboard, enabling us to create database aware HTML and Script there we could then paste into products like Visual Studio from Microsoft, Dreamweaver from a Macromedia etc.

Our dream was that we would be able to create a plug-in for one of these tools that would allow us to extend the in-built Property Editor for standard HTML elements to cater for the extended properties that we believed were necessary to support the techniques we had developed, as the select and paste mechanism we were using was too clumsy for serious development.

Eventually it became obvious that the only way forward was for us to take the plunge and develop our own custom Integrated Design Environment that was conscious of the Application Development Framework (ADF) we had a created for our own system redevelopment.

This concept has matured from a simple idea to become reality, and today finds form as the feature rich, multi-valued database aware Viságe.Designer.

Against this background we can look at some of the simplifying assumptions that we made along the way and are now implicit within the Viságe.ADF

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