February 24, 2006

The State of Dabo

Ed Leafe is an engaging speaker, and the principal developer of Dabo, a desktop application development tool (which, as he says, is a novelty nowadays).

Design goals for Dabo included database independence, UI independence (they chose wxPython as their base for its clean look, maturity and portability) and a simplified API. The GUI development aspect of Dabo has led to rapid takeup by wxPython users without database needs, but the primary target is the world of developers with Visual Studio or Visual Basic experience. These people need to see attractive development platforms with similar capability levels before they will feel comfortable migrating away from the proprietary world.

Since last year Dabo has added a report designer that enables visual design; the same principles are being applied to class design, and there's a new editor. Ed gave a quick demonstration of application building, explaining that Dabo assumes you already have a data repository, and that you want to run applications against it.

The report writer creates PDF files from an XML report description (and some data, of course). The report designer isn't (yet) hugely sophisticated, but it's better than much of the competition in the open source space. Like the rest of Dabo it''s cross-platform. The GUI editor has come on immensely in a year, and is capable of producing versatile layouts without the heavy lifting required by wxPython when used directly.

Dabo doesn't use any object-relational mapping layer, as the developers are "traditionalists".

A nice presentation of a solid project that's obviously continued to receive a lot of attention from its developers in the last year.

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