The Lianja Vision

The Lianja™ Vision explained by Barry Mavin, Lianja CEO and Principal developer of Lianja 

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As a software developer for many years, and having developed several successful commercial software products, I came to the conclusion about 3 years ago that the future of computing as we know it was going to see some rapid changes over the next 5-10 years.

With the rapid adoption of consumer-oriented personal devices, smart phones and tablets in particular and the widespread acceptance of these worldwide, it was clear that the overall IT landscape was going to change and the days of operating system vendor lock-in and separate Apps for different form factors; Desktop, Browser, Mobile devices, and Smart TVs were numbered.

It was also apparent to me that "Software development had become much too complex". End-users with expert domain knowledge do not have the time nor the inclination to download huge complex development tools such as Visual Studio, Eclipse and others, nor are they interested in going on IT programming training courses just so they can put together a small App that would allow them to manage their company expenses (as an example).

The days of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) are already upon us now. Many employees use their own smartphones to read their company email, use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to communicate with co-workers and customers alike.

The next logical step in this IT evolution is BYOA (Bring/Build Your Own Apps). However in order for this to be realized there needs to be a sea-change in the way we build Apps. We need to step away from the complexity of "bits and bytes" programming and provide simple, easy-to-use, and easy-to-understand tools that hide complexity from "domain knowledge workers" who "just want to build an App".

That was the primary reasoning that started my journey to design and develop Lianja.

The Lianja™ vision can be broken down into two main objectives:

1. To provide a Visual App Builder that non-programmers and domain knowledge workers could use to build their own apps (BYOA) and leverage their domain knowledge expertise without having to have any IT knowledge -- a NoCode™ product suitable for non-programmers.

2. To provide the best APaaS (Apps Platform As A Service) that was cross-platform, cross-UI , and cross-database that not only leveraged existing skill sets, but also was a future-proof platform that could be enhanced and supported for many years to come -- a product suitable for professional software developers.

The question was, "What scripting language should be at the core of Lianja"?

After careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that the most data-centric of all scripting languages was Microsoft Visual FoxPro. There were still many Visual FoxPro developers worldwide and Microsoft had discontinued support (the team was disbanded) as they forged ahead with their .net vision. This opened up a world of opportunity for a "next-generation" Visual FoxPro.

Lianja also had to embrace dynamic scripting languages that could be "just in time compiled" for any device; Desktop, Cloud, and Mobile (Intel and ARM). It was for this reason that I chose to embrace Visual FoxPro, Python, PHP and JavaScript as the four "core" scripting languages to be incorporated into Lianja.

The Visual FoxPro database and scripting language has been developed from the ground up and is at the core of Lianja. Existing Python, PHP and JavaScript engines have been embedded and integrated all together. This binding together of all of these scripting languages and the ability for each to call each other is one of the great strengths of Lianja.

So now, after almost 3 years of development, we have produced a product that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, with both 32 and 64 bit variants.

The Lianja scripting language and database engine is highly compatible with Visual FoxPro. The vast majority of Visual FoxPro commands and functions are available in Lianja. Additionally, Lianja includes a large amount of extensions to Visual FoxPro to provide Visual FoxPro developers with a more modern development language that incorporates features and functionality that are required in order to build Apps for the Desktop, Cloud and Mobile devices.

Many of the extensions for Lianja are taken from existing technologies such as PHP and JavaScript and they are seamlessly integrated into Lianja.

Visual FoxPro developers feel "comfortable" with Lianja as it includes a lot of recognizable commands, functions and features that they are familiar with.

As Visual FoxPro developers grow into using Lianja they will find many of the Lianja extensions to Visual FoxPro invaluable and time saving.

The underlying problem with most dynamic scripting languages such as PHP, Python and JavaScript lies in the fact that they are not data-centric.

Lianja solves this problem by providing a unified data-centric platform that has complete integration between Visual FoxPro, Python, PHP and HTML5/J-avaScript that provides Visual FoxPro developers with a whole new world of opportunities while being able to leverage their existing skills and expertise with Lianja.

It is important to understand that the goals and vision of Lianja is not to be a "Clone" of Visual FoxPro but rather to use its strengths as a database with a data-centric scripting language and extend on that to offer developers of Desktop, Cloud and Mobile Apps a powerful, easy-to-use, and easy-to-understand App development platform that allows them to leverage their skills in Visual FoxPro, Python, PHP and HTML5/J-avaScript.

Just as Microsoft Visual Studio is a common development workbench for code warriors (albeit a huge download), Lianja is a common Apps Platforms incorporating a Visual Development environment (The Lianja App Builder), a high performance and small footprint SQL database (Lianja SQL Server), and a cloud server for deploying and managing data-centric Apps for Browsers and Mobile devices (Lianja Cloud Server).

I hope that my vision has provided both non-programmers and professional developers with the tools they need to move forward into the future, but most of all I hope they enjoy building Apps in Lianja and have fun in doing so.

Barry Mavin
CEO and Principal developer of Lianja