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ScriptCase 5.2

Review

ScriptCase is a browser-based PHP Code Generator which installs it’s own web server and instance of PHP. The MySQL Edition costs $399 (reduced to $349 at time of writing) does it’s features justify the price tag, and are there any noticable limitations of a browser based code generator?

Installation

Installation was smooth, with no issues to report. It weighs in rather large at 178mb on disk.

Interface

The program runs in your browser, the first thing you need to do is login (default username and password are both admin) and choose your prefered Interface language from English, Spanish, Italian, French or German.

ScriptCase - Create a new Application

ScriptCase - Create a new Application

After logging in and creating a new project, you can see that there are a number of templates on offer – Training, Online Shop, Helpdesk etc. For this review I’m going to use the Blank Project option as I want to create a CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) application for the MySQL Sakila Database.

The next page lets you choose (human) languages and HTML charset for the application you are going to build.

You can now choose from a selection of themes, clicking on a theme show how it will look in a sample panel.

ScriptCase - Select Themes

ScriptCase - Select Themes

On the next page a range of databases is offered – but don’t get too excited yet – when you come to purchase the application you will find that each database is supported by a different edition – MySQL costs $399, MS SQL costs $499 etc. If you want the Enterprise edition that supports all of the databases it costs $699 (currently on offer at $599).

After saving my choice of theme I proceeded to use the batch wizard to create a form for each of my tables.

This is another application that despite the fact that Sakila has foreign keys setup, it does not automatically set lookup fields, and so they have to be done manually.

However, this program does have a very logical layout, and modifying my lookup fields to do the lookup was fairly straight forward, and whilst looking around I was impressed with many of the features of this application.

For example, the format as you type option will format a decimal value to the number of decimal places as you type. There are options for all capitals, capitalise first letter of each word etc which again use javascript to change as you type.

There are lots of little custom options available which on their own perhaps aren’t very exciting, but combine to make a very configurable Web Application.

In the events tab, there is a built-in code generator and snippets of code you can use to perform common tasks on a particular event.

Generated Applications

ScriptCase - Web Application

ScriptCase - Web Application

The Web Applications generated by the trial edition have a banner across the top of the page that state “Created by Scriptcase trial version for evaluation purposes only” but otherwise seem fully functional.

I like the fact that you can edit records within the grid rather than have to load the individual record form before editing. I couldn’t find an option to provide a dropdown list for the language instead of a type box, however I did like the ajax lookup of the Languag ID value which automatically displayed the language below it.

Code / Application Structure

The code generated by ScriptCase is Object Oriented, there are many files for every page and it doesn’t look particularly easy to hand code with, however there are so many configuration options in the generator that perhaps you won’t need to.

Although ScriptCase itself uses the Zend framework, it is not required for deployed applications.

Summary

When I first installed ScriptCase and found that it was a Web Application I began to worry that it may have limitations when compared with a desktop application, but that worry was thankfully unfounded.

ScriptCase provides an enourmous amount of flexibility by providing lots of options so that you can tweak your applications to behave the way you want them to.

An “Application” generated in ScriptCase could be as simple as a menu, or a grid or a PDF document that you could then just plugin to your existing Web Application therefore I can see it being useful even for adding new functionality to legacy applications.

I would have liked to have seen lookups being automatically set based on Foreign Keys, but to be fair few code generators do that automatically. There are limited WYSWYG tools built in, though to be honest these are often quite limited anyway and no substitute for something like Dreamweaver.

The price is relatively high, however if you are a professional Web Developer regularly using it in your projects then it should pay for itself in a fairly short period of time, partiularly if you make full use of it’s configuration options.

UPDATE: I've been told that newer versions do automatically recognise foreign keys

Reviewed September 2011

ScriptCase 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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