Graphical development is key for agility and productivity.
Ab Initio provides end-to-end graphical development of complex applications. This means that whole applications are typically built completely graphically with Ab Initio. Graphical development is inherently more productive and less costly than traditional coding.
Non-Ab Initio technologies can, at best, do only simple things graphically, and anything complex requires dropping back to traditional coding (Java, SQL, stored-procedures, and so forth). The hard parts of an application are where all the development and maintenance time goes. What’s the point of graphical development if hard things require old-fashioned coding?
Ab Initio’s approach starts with our basic application paradigm, which is known as data flow. This is the way people design applications with pencil and paper — they draw pictures with boxes to represent processing steps, circles for datasets, and arrows to link them together. Data flows from the source datasets through the processing steps to the target datasets.
Ab Initio provides a large library of processing components that embody practically any kind of complex control-flow and that include highly efficient implementations of all necessary algorithms. Users drop these components on the canvas and connect them together with arrows. The components provide many benefits: ease of specification of business rules, highly efficient computing algorithms, flexible processing of arbitrary data structures, and so on. A very large program that would have taken a long time to develop and debug becomes a quickly implemented and tested picture (a data flow diagram) with a few boxes and arrows that typically fit on a single screen and that people can understand, and yet that has tremendous performance.
Many of Ab Initio’s powerful components are extensible through user-specified business rules.
Users specify complex business rules graphically and without traditional coding. An intuitive, spreadsheet-like interface allows business users to input and validate their rules against real or test data, leading to agility that is not possible with traditional technologies.
Ab Initio’s graphical environment drives agile processes. For example, Ab Initio provides powerful tools for test data generation, production data anonymization (for testing purposes), automated test execution and comparison against baseline results, and complete collection of detailed operational metrics. Agile development depends on a strong testing methodology, and Ab Initio makes this much easier by automating so much of the process. And developers love working with a system that lets them see the details of computations at the record level (with single-step debugging), even for applications that are processing massive quantities of data across distributed networks.
Finally, users find Ab Initio’s graphical environment motivating — they feel pride in their work because it is easy to show and explain it to others.
Working with Ab Initio is great fun (in addition to saving money, doing things faster, doing less maintenance, and being more responsive to the business).