Heading home from the WT in Atlanta. For me this was the best WT so far and
I've been to them all. I think anyone using 4D benefits from attending. The
first day is free. In previous WTs day one was more of a sales pitch and
feature overview. Not so this time. There are 17 demo databases in day one.
They highlight and present many of the new capabilities involving ORDA,
Form, dynamic forms and a more refined preview of 4D for iOS. There are a
number of useful elements you can pull right into a project - assuming you
are working v17+.

And this is really a critical point - the World Tour is focused on the
future of 4D and that future is ORDA. Actually it is more than just ORDA.
ORDA is the new, modern direction of programming 4D is taking. It's not
everything, though. The change in the way we can work with forms isn't
connected with ORDA per se but it's no less a profound change. And a
welcome one form me. I really like the form editor but the ability to
create forms dynamically and store their definitions externally in JSON
files is a good thing. The ability to store an entire 4D database (it will
be known as a Project) will be available soon (though not committed to).

The first day exposes you to many of the new features in 4D and clearly
lays out the thinking behind the changes made and to come. This alone makes
it worth the time and expense to travel to it.

The second day is for those of us using 4D professionally. JPR and Add have
spent time putting together excellent demos and presentations. These demo
the nuts and bolts of effectively working with ORDA and forms. This is
information you will need to effectively apply these new techniques in real
world projects. And once more there are bits and pieces you can pull right
out of a demo and use yourself which do useful things.

I was chatting with someone yesterday morning and he asked me what my 3 big
take-aways were up to then. Here's what I wrote back:

#1 - all the time I’ve spent learning to use ORDA has been spot on and well
spent. (I finished yesterday for the first time feeling like I kept up with
#2 - this is truly the way forward for 4D.
#3 - because it’s the way forward it is where all the resources are being
focused. And they are moving fast.
#4 - it’s super important to grasp the concept of references vs. the way we
have thought about variables in the past.

(get the reference to my off-by-one joke?)

I have been actively working on educating myself on ORDA and object
oriented programming for the past few months. And I really did feel like I
was keeping up with JPR right up to the end of day 1. Not so much on day 2
but at least my eyes didn't glaze over. The point, though, is how much
programming in 4D is changing. 4D classic and backward compatibility is not
in danger. I mean - they've been threatening to remove subtables for how
many years and 4D still deals with them if it needs too. Mostly. So old
school programming done with 4D classic is going to run on new versions of
4D for probably longer than any of us will be able to write intelligible
code. (Assuming you can write intelligible code now...) But all the new
work is being focused on ORDA and its associated technology.

Why? Because Laurant believes it's the direction to go. It's a modern
approach to programming. You can (and will) argue with that but it's where
this train is headed.

Do you need to get on board?

I mean that seriously. The fact is you may not. There are a lot of us who
have used 4D for a long, long time. We've written bunches of apps, have
them deployed and running just fine. It's like a retired neighbor said to
me when we were talking about repairing a fence on our common lot line: "it
only has to last as long as I do."  Personally I don't think there is any
compelling reason to take old code that's running fine and try to inject
ORDA into it. There is no advantage. As I understand it the database engine
in 4D is the same engine that Wakanda used. Wakanda exposed more
capabilities of that engine but at the core it's the same engine. ORDA is
rolling out so fast because the engine is already there and tested. ORDA is
a programming layer, if you will. 4D classic is different layer. ORDA is
faster to develop with and requires less code to accomplish the same
results. It's also more comprehensible to folks already accustomed to OOP
languages or javaScript. I think there are some cases where classic 4D may
be faster on basic operations but I don't think those will stand because
ORDA is where the focus is.

If you are planning on retiring in the next few years, or selling your
vertical market app there's no real reason for you to worry about learning
this stuff in my opinion. You don't have to have it. But if you are looking
at having your app running and being updated in the future, or our app is
critical to a business, or looking at hiring programmers to work on your
app, or looking at 4D as a rapid development platform (it used to be
classified that way) then get to the World Tour and be willing to learn.
Because once you get going with ORDA 4D is really fun to program in again.

Kirk Brooks
San Francisco, CA

What can be said, can be said clearly,
and what you can’t say, you should shut up about

*Wittgenstein and the Computer *
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