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The Building Blocks for Linux

  • September 25, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

The way to beat Microsoft's products, says Gordon, is to produce better products and to make them freely available. One place where the Redmond behemoth is vulnerable will be exploited, he hopes, by the flowcharting program he's working on.

"I've spent a lot of time looking at MS Office. For one thing, they don't include Visio. Visio is frightfully expensive. It's also incredibly robust, and people don't often get to the huge number of features that are there. By including that, we're going a huge step beyond what you can get out of MS Office or StarOffice, and with the database stuff--I've found the database stuff in StarOffice to be awful, personally, and MS Access is pretty good. It's not bad at all. I also liked Paradox for Windows as well."

Another is the revival of KDB, and ReKall, which is designed to make the MS Access user happier than ever before.

"With this MS Access thing, we've got KDB. One of my main guys has been doing the major work on that. He's got the definitions and everything pretty much set up for KDB. That will be the generic layer as part of the desktop that you can embed in pretty much anything. You can put queries inside of a KSpread spreadsheet, and you can mail merge out of a database in a KWord document, that kind of stuff. That will be our database layer for what we're calling ReKall, which will be the end-user, lightweight DBMS system, like an MS Access. MySQL, PostgreSQL--those are too much for the officeplace. I know what people use in the office. Access has always been the bane of IS, because there's some yahoo in some department who builds some system that nobody else knows about and they're running the whole department out of it, disconnected from everything else.

"As part of KDB, we have an I/O slave for Konqueror that's a database browser, and that already works. So you you can enter databases as URLs and do simple queries and browse datatables. It uses the plugins that are part of KDB to give it support for whatever databases you need. Nobody else does that on any platform. That's pretty cool--we're excited about that.

"The big thing with everything we're doing is, we're trying to reuse stuff even more than people are now, and really make everything interoperable. With Kivio, we're trying to leverage some things we can use with the visual IDE that we're working on and also with the database that we're working on."

The scripting language that appears throughout is Python VeePee, which Gordon describes as "Visual Basic for applications."

Back to Kivio. They've already gotten it to work everywhere it might be useful.

"What we've done with that is kind of cool. We've made it part of kparts, so it works inside of KOffice, so we've already done things like embed it inside a spreadsheet, a KWord document, and so on, so you're going to have flow charting. Now the plugin architecture--we've got some interesting stencils where you can read through, say, database structure and automatically generate a chart of the relationships or generate a UML from header files, things like that. There are some pretty cutesy things that we plan on doing with that.

"We should have a technology preview release of Kivio in the next few weeks--that's getting real close."

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