TLDR: Technical business analysts *really can* use WaveMaker to build web applications on the enterprise Java stack.
The promise of RAD development tools has always been the opportunity for non-programmers to build applications, and the big downside has always been the cost of licensing and deploying a specialised runtime environment to each user. The interesting thing about WaveMaker’s approach to this market is that the runtime cost has gone. You compile your web application to a WAR file, and you can then deploy it to the web application server of your choice.
We have been using WaveMaker Beta 126.96.36.199 to build a prototype of an enterprise dashboard application (free trial here: http://www.wavemaker.com/ ). We were happy enough with the progress we made and the support we got to commit to licensing – here are some of our early lessons.
Lesson 1: Get a real problem
We had a prototype of our application built in Microsoft Excel, so we knew exactly what we had to build. This made it harder for us to shy away from the trickier problems, such as master-detail navigation.
Lesson 2: Variable Scope and Type
Keep an eye out for whether your variable is at application or page level. This is key, and determines how the application refreshes or reloads your variable. Variable is a broad brush term in the Wavemaker context and encompasses procedures, queries and widgets to name but a few. It helped us to think of them as objects.
Lesson 3: Use Timers to auto-update
We had a requirement to have an auto-updating dashboard, and we used a special kind of variable of type Timer. This fires an event as per its set parameters, and was very useful.
Lesson 4: Be aware of where localhost is with database connections
We discovered a real ‘gotcha’ when importing a database – one of the key parameters asked for is the host. When developing in the cloud, ‘localhost’ will point to the cloud instance, not the database on your local machine, so use the URL. We have successfully connected WaveMaker to Amazon RDS for SQL Server, Oracle, MariaDB and PostgreSQL.
Lesson 5: Where to find project configuration files
If you want to take a peek at your project files look at the following. This lets you edit configuration files and update your parameters.
Lesson 6: How to pass parameters between pages
Two widgets on a page can be made to talk to each other very easily with a few clicks of a mouse as they will have the same scope. However, what is not so intuitive is how to pass parameters from a parent to a child page where the scope of the widgets is constrained to their individual page. The solution: On the parent page create a static variable, set the scope to Application level and then bind the data values to the appropriate parent widget; On the Child page, bind the child widget to the static variable values.
Lesson 7: Beware of scheduled maintenance
You are happily coding away, you are feeling pleased, even a little smug with yourself and you hit the run button when … What can be happening? Erm … nothing! Have you lost your mind? Will your boss mock you? Don’t worry – it might just be that you’ve missed a maintenance window. These are extremely easy to miss – the small banner that appears briefly in the bottom right hand side of the studio window will be your only warning.
Just in case you missed that …
We found that after a bit of experimenting WaveMaker does everything and more than we needed it to do. The product is not instantly intuitive, but after a couple of weeks there is a flow that you go with and application development does indeed become rapid. Hopefully, the tips above will get you where you need to be rapidly and stop you barking up the wrong tree. We give the Wavemaker product an overall 9 out of 10.
Main website, free trial, tutorials: http://www.wavemaker.com/
Series of tutorials on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQXjfhBWpBiqpXol_WGh71A