Rocket U2 Developer Zone
I spent last week at the U2 University in Sydney and had a great time. During the opening keynote speech, Rocket announced the new U2 Developer Zone.
Great news! Finally a public site for developers that links all the resources you would expect. White papers, podcasts, demos, links to manuals, personal editions of the database servers. Not just a public site, but a public site for developers from Rocket itself. That’s what we needed, strong, visible vendor support of the development community.
It is still a bit rough with a fair amount of content missing, but it has enough in there to make it worth signing up (free) to check it out.
It breaks the site down into 4 key areas.
Ignite is aimed at new players and features explanations of what Multi-Value Databases are, some information about U2 as well as summaries of the Developer & Admin tools available for download.
Launch works on getting a developer up and running as quickly as possible with instructions and links for downloading and installing both the UniVerse/UniData servers, as well as their 4GL tool – SB/XA. A bonus is some professional looking video tutorials for getting them up and running.
Accelerate is focused more on in-depth content of the system with various articles and tutorials that have been produced by Rocket as well as some community figures as well.
Dock appears to be aimed at the forming a community/developer collaboration. It has links to U2UG as well as Rocket U2 on Facebook and Twitter (even though the twitter link is missing on the site at the moment). It also has a message board, but this appears to be one of those unfinished features for the time being.
One point of disappointment at the moment is ‘The Wall’ it throws up to get any content. It requires you to sign-up and log in before you can actually access the content. While I can appreciate their probable reasonings for this and appreciate it is still free, I believe this is one of those things that will prevent those who stop by from search results/ideal curiosity from actually getting involved.
By throwing up a wall, instead of openly allowing read-only access, it has a 2 fold effect. First, google (and other search engines) will not be able to correctly index the content. In an age where > 90% of website traffic generally comes from search engines, this is definitely not ideal. The other negative effect is that the bounce rate of people not currently involved will surely be higher.
Hopefully they will review this decision and decided upon a more open and effective path.
U2 PHP PDO Driver
So, my title indicated something about a U2 PHP PDO Driver and you were not mislead. While at the U2U Conference I had the pleasure of, among others, speaking with Jackie from Rocket Software. At one point the conversation turned towards dynamic languages and in particular, PHP. I was told that some tutorials had actually been written on getting PHP to natively connect to U2 and should be able to be found on the new developer site. Bingo!
After some quick searching on the site, I present you 2 links so you can build your own native connector between PHP and U2:
- Building the PDO Driver – Tutorial + Source code
- Using your new U2 PHP PDO Driver – Tutorial + downloadable example
Hopefully you find this useful!
I’ll admit it. I was quite sceptical when I was first introduced to UniData. It was different from other systems I was familiar with. It also seemed quite antiquated. It didn’t help that I was introduced to it via a green screen and single line editor that was preached as “very powerful” because it could do the equivalent of ‘Find & Replace’
It does have its charm, however. It also exceeds in areas where other solutions don’t.
The biggest problem I still have with U2 over other stacks out there, is the community. Now, the problem isn’t the people in the community. The problem is size and accessibility of the community compared to the mainstream stacks. This is especially true for newer users/developers as their normal sources of information generally pull up empty regarding U2.
StackOverflow (programming), ServerFault (Server admin) and SuperUser (End-User) have quickly become one of those “One-Stop-Shops” for Q&A’s for large number of admins, developers and users. I am one of those developers. I even link to it on the right-side here. I have not gone there for U2 answers though, since I know there is only a small handful who know about UniData or UniVerse that frequent it.
Evan Carrol recently posted about StackOverflow/ServerFault as an alternative medium. I completely agree and find that while the mail-list serves it’s purpose, I found the above trilogy of sites to have a far more useful system in place. I also believe that more activity at these sites will be far more useful and easy to find for new players.
From now one, if I post a question on the mailing list, I will also post on the appropriate above site. I also encourage any others in the U2 world to do the same.
That isn’t the only problem facing the community when competing with the mainstream stacks. U2 has a unique business model which causes users to not only be isolated from the actual U2 team by “middlemen” (resellers, etc) who act as first line support, but also isolating the users from each other. The U2 User Group helps, but I feel still doesn’t negate this initial segregation.
Comprehensive introduction tutorials (not just for the core product, but also the additional bolt-on products), a more direct route for reporting bugs to Rocket and an easier to use community site would go along way to closing the gap.
That’s my opinion anyway.