A Common Class of Business-Oriented Database Applications or: How I Hope to Achieve what Microsoft Access Didn't

Thursday, February 18, 2010 - 7:00pm
Eirik Bakke, M.I.T. CSAIL and EECS

Joint meeting with IEEE Computer Society and DAMA

If you've ever used a piece of highly domain-specific business software, chances are it was nothing but a graphical front-end to some database. However, while such systems can be extremely useful to the organizations they are tailored for, they take a very long time to develop relative to their number of potential target users. Even with tools like FileMaker, 4D, or Microsoft Access, developers must spend time on low-level tasks such as form design, data binding, and hard-coding of common design patterns. Whereas off-the-shelf SQL databases have sufficed as application back-ends for decades, no similar universal component exists to provide the front-end and middle tier.

In this talk I'll present my ideas for eliminating most of the work involved in developing customized database applications, and show you some of my current progress, including: a query language that formalizes database GUIs, a simple automatic layout generator, and a spreadsheet that understands relationships.

Before fleeing to the US, Eirik evaded military service by spending a year as an end-user of an amazingly obscure (and aquatically themed) database system made specifically for the administration of public Norwegian schools of music, theatre, and visual arts. Now safe in the hands of his advisors Prof. David Karger and Prof. Rob Miller, Eirik is at MIT CSAIL working towards his Master's Degree and, eventually/hopefully, his PhD.

This joint meeting of the Boston Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society and GBC/ACM will be held in MIT Room E51-315. E51 is the Tang Center on the corner of Wadsworth and Amherst Sts and Memorial Dr.; it's mostly used by the Sloan School. You can see it on this map of the MIT campus. Room 315 is on the 3rd floor.

Up-to-date information about this and other talks is available online at http://ewh.ieee.org/r1/boston/computer/ (also accessible via the alias http://TinyURL/BostonComputer/). You can sign up to receive updated status information about this talk and informational emails about future talks at http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/ieee-cs, our self-administered mailing list.