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ScriptArtist 3.0 by OctaneSoft

Review

ScriptArtist has a bright and breezy user interface and comes with a front-end and backend Book Store template. It costs just $79 but is this artist an old master or a poor reproduction?

Installation

Installation was fairly standard and created links for the program, uninstaller and help file. It takes about 4mb of disk space and installs it’s own copy of Apache and PHP.

Interface

Looking around the program I see a lot of similarities to DBQwikSite (which I reviewed yesterday), but with a fresher, more modern look though offering less standard templates.

The program opens with the option to open an existing project or create a new one. When opting to create a new one you can either use one of the templates (there are only 2 – front end and backend for a book store application) or a blank project or a Project Builder Wizard. I intend to build a Web Application for the MySQL Sakila database so I will go for the Project Builder Wizard.

Script Artist - Opening Screen

Script Artist - Opening Screen

Step 2 involves giving the project a name, selecting a location, default font/size, encoding, doc type etc.

Step 3 is where you specify the Database connection. Although some applications support several popular databases, Script Artist only supports MySQL. This shouldn’t really be a problem for most users though.

Step 4 involves specifying the Tables/Views you want to include, and Step 5 involves specifying a primary key for tables (and particularly views) that don’t have a primary key.

Step 6 contains rows of checkboxes where you can specify for each included table/view whether you wish to search/add/edit/delete/more/email based on it.

Step 7 allows us to choose a Theme and Style, though only 2 theme’s are available in the trial version (you can see a preview of the others though).

Like DBQwikSite, Script Artist generates separate files for search, add, edit, delete and even email. Unfortunately it did not detect the Foreign Keys in the Sakila database (which to be fair – few programs do) so I need to go through and manually change the text boxes to dropdown lists in each one.

Generated Applications

Script Artist - Generated Application

Script Artist - Generated Application

The Web Application it generates shows a menu of tables/views down the left side and shows a grid of data with buttons to Edit, Delete and Email to the right. Options for Advanced Search and Add record are on a bar at the top of the page. Columns can be sorted by clicking on them, but there doesn’t seem to be an option for multi-column sort.

One little bug is that the Original_Language_ID column which is blank for most records in the Sakila database is causing the grid to throw an error about the number formatting function expecting a double. I’m sure this could be fixed quite easily though.

Code / Application Structure

The code is procedural, with anything up to 19 files per table/view, e.g. film film_add, film_add_ajax, film_add_func, film_ajax … etc. There are pros and cons of this approach – if you want to do some hand coded tweaks, and only want to change the code where you add a record to a particular table then it makes it relatively easy to pin down the correct file that needs to be changed. However if you want to make a blanket change to every table then it would take you a long time.

Like many code generators, there is no option to use PDO instead of the classic MySQL drivers – I prefer PDO as it is more secure when used correctly, as well as being more efficient.

Other folders include components (Calendar) css, images, includes (containing core functionality) js (javscript including the prototype library) and languages – which contains a PHP file with defines for 40 words and phrases which you could translate into another language.

Summary

Script Artist is a nice looking program with a clean modern interface, that produces fairly competent CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) web applications – with the added bonus of being able to generate emails of data.

However, setting up dropdown lists for lookup fields can be quite a time consuming process if you have a lot of lookup fields in your database, and the procedural code generated is not ideal if you intend to do lots of hand coding, though a newbie making small changes will likely find the code quite easy to follow.

For $79 it offers good value for money, and is definitely worth trying out if you are on a tight budget, particularly if you intend to create front-end sites with it.

Reviewed September 2011

ScriptArtist Publisher's Website


If you have used this product and have any comments about this review (perhaps we missed a killer feature, or missed some major hole that only manifests itself after prolonged use) then please comment below.

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