NetDynamics is actually five products, each with differing strengths and weaknesses. In addition to the aforementioned Studio — which we’ll cover in some depth later — NetDynamics includes the following:
- The Application Server, which runs on a Java Virtual Machine.
- The Command Center is the management center of the application server, managing either an individual server or a cluster of servers.
- A JavaBean editor optimizes your code.
- The Platform Adapter Component manages data access to every major data-object formats, including CORBA, COM, XMP, SAP R/3, CICS, OS/400, and CICS.
Sun Microsystems seemingly acquires application servers the way that my son acquires Pokemon cards: as often as possible, with little regard as to how many Pokemon cards are already sitting in his acquisition pile. Call it the Pokemon Principle.
The application server is easily among the most advanced in the field and has everything an enterprise would want in a 24/7 portal application server. You can rely on the Command Console for managing a server or a cluster of servers. Reliability is enhanced with the Java Transaction Service, which maps multiple routines across multiple databases. The load balancing is based on algorithms, which routes requests to servers based on the usage levels of the other servers (as opposed to a round-robin arrangement, which routes a request merely to a less-busy server). Also featured are automatic failover (which completes a session on another server should the hosting application server fail), connecting pooling, caching of frequently accessed data, and SNMP reporting.
Of course, an application server isn’t worth a lot without an IDE, and the NetDynamics IDE, Studio, is excellent. Studio creates HTML/Java pages that incorporate links to existing data sources; you can use predefined wizards to create these pages, or you can code your own HTML and insert the links automatically. The Studio IDE has a nice method of creating multipart pages: you can add fields to create the multiple parts or you can create two separate pages and then combine them in the end. However, the template support in Studio isn’t as good: you can only have one HTML template per project. Unless you create pages from scratch and not rely on the template (or a style sheet), you’re stuck