C++ developers are always seeking ways to enjoy the power and performance of the language; yet they also strive to complete their projects in a more timely manner. IBM's VisualAge for C++ Professional 4.0 provides the tools necessary to shorten the project cycle while also beefing up compilation performance.
For the most part, VisualAge for C++ compares favourably to its competitors.
However, the VisualAge for C++ integrated development environment (IDE) is not nearly as responsive as those in competing offerings.
Neatly thought out
I found the VisualAge for C++ IDE to be neatly thought out, with its tabbed-access metaphor. However, my interactions with various functions in the IDE proved quite sluggish. By contrast, Inprise C++ Builder was much faster. Having the tools to get the job done is important, but adequate interaction response time is also critical.
Slow interaction aside, VisualAge for C++ does provide tools that are on par with its rivals. And in some areas, IBM goes beyond the offerings of its competitors.
For example, VisualAge for C++ supports traditional ordered source code as well as orderless coding. You can use either method; the orderless approach allows you to use a function or class without having to previously declare it.
IBM also leads its rivals with the detailed help system in VisualAge for C++. The HTML-based system includes searching capabilities that enable developers to quickly locate information.
Similar to Inprise, VisualAge for C++ supports both an IDE and a command-line approach to development. And this VisualAge version, like Inprise's C++ Builder, supports the latest C++ language standards.
IBM has provided two useful visual tools in VisualAge for C++ - Visual Builder and Data Access Builder. The former lets you assemble applications from predefined parts and generates the code for you. The latter supports the graphical mapping of relational data into reusable components. The graphical tools generate operating system-neutral code, so moving your applications among platforms should not present any difficulty.
Though my interactions with the development environment were sluggish, the compilation speed was exactly the opposite. The incremental com-piler provided in VisualAge for C++ proved to be a peppy performer.
The compilation speed was noticeably improved when compared to the previous VisualAge for C++ version. Though my measurements were informal, the VisualAge for C++ compiler speed seemed on par with that of Inprise's C++ Builder's.
As a C++ development tool, VisualAge contains many useful features that developers need. If IBM can address the sluggishness in the IDE, VisualAge for C++ is worth investigating as a development tool choice.
The Bottom Line
IBM VisualAge for C++ Professional 4.0
Like its rivals, this version of IBM's C++ development tool boasts developer productivity enhancements and faster compilation. The updated development interface is very easy to navigate and sports useful tools. However, the development environment itself is much less responsive than its competitors.
Pros: Tabbed access to projects simplifies navigation; speedy incremental compilation; supports orderless coding; includes predefined parts and code-generation capabilities; useful detailed help system; complies with the latest C++ language standards.
Cons: Slow response in the development environment.
Platforms: Windows NT, OS/2, and AIX.
Price: $1875 per developer for Professional version; $519 for crossgrades.
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