Uniface explorers #1 – The very first Uniface podcast

Software development is not only about technology. Why do we make software? For sure there are many reasons. Technology is not any of them. So, what is it then? Why do we still believe that technology is, while it’s not?

In this first episode I, Peter, will explain why I make this podcast. And since this is a podcast about Uniface, a short introduction in Uniface is given.


Welcome to the first episode of the Uniface explorers podcast.
My name is Peter Lammersma.

Great that you found this podcast. You might be wondering. What can you expect of this podcast? What is it all about? Uniface is IT, so will it be something nerdy? Why should you listen at all?

Hopefully I can answer these questions for you.
What I can say already is that is not going to be nerdy. Okay, this podcast is about an IT product, but IT is not always technical. In fact, IT has more to do with emotions than you think. More on that later.

I am not going to pretend I have done this before.
This is my first podcast episode ever and I have really no idea where this will be heading.

But I wanted to make a podcast about Uniface for a long time now.
Despite the fact that I would like to make it myself, I have for a long time been guilty of procrastinating behaviour.

I just couldn?t start. I had bought a decent microphone, installed software, learned to work with it. And then I waited?
I waited for something to happen.
Nothing happened.

I have a list of subjects and ideas for future episodes.
Record and publishing may sound like the start of something, but in fact it is the end of a long process. At least, for me it is a long process.
And that is difficult to me, finishing something. Starting is never a problem though.

In the next, I expect 20 minutes, I want to tell you about my idea?s and plans for this podcast.
So you can decide if you want to listen to the future episodes.

It?s polite to introduce myself and the organisation I represent.

My name is Peter. I am the founder of an IT organisation called UnividualS. I will tell you more about that in a moment.

When I am not busy with my IT business, I have, together with my partner Mascha, my own coffee label. Called Cobra Coffee. And once I had my own espresso bar, which I still miss every day.
What else? I live in the city center of Amsterdam, super cool but occasionally very lively.
I am highly interested in entrepreneurship, ICT, philosophy and spirituality. I love that combination!

So, I think I am quite an entrepreneurial guy.

I like to surround myself with like-minded people.
Since I believe that as human being I am very much influenced by the people I surround myself with.
That was the reason for me to found UnividualS. More than 10 years ago now.
UnividualS is an organization of entrepreneurial IT professionals.
We specialize in 4GL and low code software development.
We deliver our services worldwide.
And we use Uniface. A lot of Uniface.

Oh, and before I forget! I need to be clear about something.
You will hear two names in this podcast that may sound similar. Uniface and UnividualS.
They both start with ?uni?, that is not a coincidence, but they absolutely not the same.
Uniface is the product that we use. It is from the company Uniface. That makes sense. After all, a Tesla is also from the company Tesla.

UnividualS on the other hand, is the organisation of the entrepreneurial IT professionals.
And we use Uniface. But we are not Uniface.

But I am constantly talking about Uniface.
If you know what Uniface is, you have probably fallen asleep already.
If you have no idea what Uniface is, you probably realize by now that it has something to do with IT. And that may sound pretty boring, but hopefully it isn?t.

By the way, if you still don’t get it after this podcast and want to understand it.
Or if you already knew and do not agree with me.
Or if you know more or less what it is and want to use it.
Then just sent me a message. Peter@unividuals.com.

Okay, what is Uniface. The shortest explanation: Uniface is a software development platform.
Isn?t that cool!

For a long time I was hoping that I could skip this part and just assume that you know what Uniface is and that you are interested in what I have to tell about it.
But that wouldn?t make sence, since it is in fact the basis of this whole podcast.
What is Uniface, why do I use it and why do I make this podcast about it.

So I have to explain a bit about Uniface.
With Uniface you can create your own applications. Pretty technical, you can imagine.
That’s what I thought when I started thinking about this podcast.
How can I create a podcast, in which I can only tell a story, about something that is very technical and might require more visual tools.

When it comes to technology topics, a podcast may not be the right medium. But since I don?t want to talk just about the technical side, but also touch the more emotional aspects, a podcast might just be the right thing.

There will be moments I can probably not avoid to be a bit technical, but the intention is always to find the balance between technology and its implications.

You see, software development is very technical on one side, but there is also another side.
And that side revolves around the question why we build applications in the first place.
Why do organizations spend millions on building software?
In fact, look at your own life. Your phone, your computer and probably even your car.
It’s all software.
Why? Why is it all software? And what role does Uniface play in it?
And that is what it’s all about for me. The shortest question possible : WHY.

Okay, let?s finish the Uniface part. You can use it to build software.
If you don?t know what that is; building software, I will explain the concept. The concept of software development is not so hard to understand.

Let?s compare it with the concept of passing on knowledge. So, the things that we have learned.

Please, try to imagine. That once upon a time, a long long time ago, language had not been developed. There was no communication.
That?s hard to imagine, isn?t it. No facebook. No social talk.
Now try to imagine how you could pass knowledge about something that you knew or good do.
Knowledge could only be passed on, by Showing something. Learning by example. I do something, you copy. A bit like a youtube video?

As soon as we started to develop language we could also pass knowledge to others, by telling stories. Instead of only learning by copying behavior or skills, we could talk about it.

And we started to draw on the walls of a cave. Showing how we did something and with whom we were.
But things really started to skyrocket, when we started writing books to capture this knowledge.
By writing your thoughts and knowledge, we were able to give this information unambiguously and continuously to a large audience.

So, a book is nothing more that a means to store and retrieve information.

In order to be able to put this information in these books we needed pen and paper. Tools to capture the message.

What has this to do with software development? An application, software, can be compared to a book. It?s about information. One of the reasons that we need software is because we need or want to store and retrieve information. Data.
So, an application is like a book.
And just like we need tools to make a book, we also need tools to build an application. Not pen and paper, but software development tools.

But we are not completely there yet.

In a book there is a message. A story.
Apart from how the book was made, you need something else to express the story that you are trying to deliver.
These are the letters and the words you use.
Together with syntax and grammar they form a language.
The language that you and I speak every day.
The language that we hear when we think.

When building an application, we also need a language. Just like the book.

When we use a book to spread the message, we need language, pen and paper.
Building an application, requires a language and a platform to be able to use that language.
Uniface is both.
Uniface is a language and it is a platform to use that language in. And that is a pretty unique and effective combination.

Now I realise, when we talk about computer language we think it?s boring. When we talk about language to write a book and share thoughts, we think it?s poetry.
How strange is that!

So, before you think ?O no, again a boring IT presentative. Just sent me the powerpoint!?. There is more.

Building software is in fact more than just technology. It is emotion. It is a lot of emotion.
Think about that book. A book is in fact boring too. Language, pen and paper. What is sexy about that. Or worse, a text editor and a decent printer. That?s all you need.
But we all know it doesn?t have to be boring! Sure, you can write a technical report.
But why not write a bestselling novel.
You can tell the truth or a lie. Facts or opinions. Fiction or non-fiction.
Your choice of words. The style. The atmosphere do you want to create.

But most of all, why are you actually writing a book?

The same questions I raised about software. Why do we need software. Same question.
That is the human side, I find very interesting. It is the organizational side of the story.

When you found this podcast because you are in the Uniface ecosystem, then of course you know what Uniface is, or you are a friend of someone who is.
But the Uniface ecosystem is a small part of the whole world. There are so many people on this planet who don’t know what Uniface is. For us, Uniface dudes, that is hard to imagine, trust me.
But even if you don’t know what Uniface is, chances are, it could be part of your life. Without knowing it.
There are so many applications and systems built in Uniface, worldwide, that you can hardly escape it.
However, Uniface is rarely visible from the outside.
Just as you will never know with which tool a book has been written.

Let?s talk some more about emotions… Uniface itself was once developed from an emotional perspective.
To explain that I need to talk about two large frustrations in the software development business.

The first has to do with databases and the other with Operating Systems. Both are very important, but seldom part of your applications. You have to deal with them.

Let?s start with the data.
As I mentioned, one of the reasons why we have application is we need or want to do something with data. Storing data, sharing data, reading data, processing data. Everything is data.
Uniface is very suitable to process data.

And data is stored in a database.

Uniface is a lot, but it is not a database. Uniface uses a database to store the data for you. Databases are specific and independent products. Like Oracle, Sybase and mySQL.

The choice for a specific database is very important and certainly one that will not change quickly.
But if you want to change, for whatever the reason is, then of course you don’t want to have to change your application.
Can you imagine. Changing your application for something that is, strictly speaking, not even part of your application.
That is a waste of time and money. Isn?t it. But, unfortunately, it?s very realistic.

Same for the operating system that is used.
Nowadays you don’t have that many different Operation Systems anymore and the once there are don?t change that fast anymore. But once it was a madhouse.
Technologies changed so rapid that organisations had to switch to another operating system before the application was even completely developed.
Can you imagine the frustration when you had to change your application due to that switch to another operating system.

From these two great frustrations, change of database and/or OS, were the basis for Uniface.
A bunch of brilliant minds thought it would be really cool if they could create and deliver a development platform with a kind of universal interface.
Uniface was born.
And now you know where the name Uniface comes from, Universal Interface. Uni Face?

So, applications built with Uniface are database and OS independent. A change of database or OS does not require any modification in your applications.
A result of that is that your applications will last a very long time because you can constantly upgrade to the latest versions.
Very positive from a financial point of view. The Return on Investment and Total Cost of Ownership of a Uniface application is really something to be delighted with. Isn?t that an emotion?

You notice, I spend hours talking about Uniface.
In fact, I have to, since I want to create many more episodes!

But before I stop, in case you wonder, what is causing this love for Uniface? Good question!
Look what I’ve told you so far about Uniface can also be found in many other tools.

By now, I have been in the IT world long enough not to be blinded by one product.

However, all my trips to other products did not gave me the satisfaction that I found in Uniface.
One of the reasons is that I like to colour outside the lines. I think I am a creative IT professional.
Colouring is nice, but I’m not artistic.
So in order to be able to colour outside the line, I do need some guidance. Uniface gives these, but I can stay inside or go outside those frames. That is my choice.
It is this freedom that I miss so much in other products. Other products do promise freedom, but it’s only after you’ve been able to squeeze yourself into their straitjacket.
How can I create something new? That is not what I call creativity.
As an entrepreneurial professional, I don’t like that.
And Uniface? Uniface gives me the independence I need.

That freedom is wonderful, but sometimes overwhelming as well. If everything is possible, where do you start? When do you know enough about a product.
My colleagues know about areas within Uniface that I had never heard of before. And I know quite a lot about the product.
Or developers who use it in a way that completely surprises me. And I think of myself as quite a creative developer.
That’s where the name of the podcast comes from.
I want to explore Uniface. I am a Uniface explorer.

With these words I would like to end this episode.

The intention is to record new episodes on a regular basis. And I do have ideas about it, but I am making this podcast especially for you. The listeners.

So please, sent me our feedback!
If you have any questions you would like to have answered in this podcast or if you have any ideas on a subject, please send me an email.
Do you want to be my guest in an episode, so we can talk about your expertise? Let me know, I am very interested.
My e-mail address is peter@unividuals.com. For more information you can visit our website: unividuals.com.

That?s it for now. I wish you a very pleasant day. And remember IT is more than just technology.

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