Design descission - to ASTA or not to ASTA

Guys (and girls),

I need your help making a design descission about a project we are about to embark on. We are going to write a database driven application for one of our clients and someone recommended using ASTA as a framework for the implementation. Now, from what I can see ASTA gives you some nice features (like auto updating the client, business logic on the server, auto sql generation for inserts/updates/deletes etc.). But there are also some drawbacks (another layer of code to implement, may be less efficient than doing your own code, sql generation may not be powerful enough for what we need to do anyway, client needs to run ASTA server (and buy licenses...)).

What are your experiences with the ASTA framework. Good or Bad? Easy to use/implement? Any big drawbacks/pitfalls? Any alternative technologies that are better?

Looking forward to your input...

Best regards,

Who is Participating?
gwalkeriqConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Have used Asta for a couple of projects.  Real question as to whether you should use Asta, or another framework such as RemObjects, or no framework at all depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Asta buys you a real advantage if you want to implement mid-tiier logic.

Asta provides a fairly straightforward and easily written means to write mid-tier logic. If you don't plan on this, then you probably should not use Asta unless one of these benefits is important to you: 1) Security by not having to expose a native database connection, 2) licensing costs, Asta can be much cheaper than deploying a lot of ODBC licenses, etc. 3) performance -- Asta excels on low-bandwidth client connections, 4) pseudo Peer to peer message (via the central server), 5) Firewall bypass via http tunneling, 6) database portability by encapsulating database access in mid-tier server.

The real advantage to Asta is support for mid-tier logic. Asta is not a particularly object-oriented middleware (such as RemObjects), but it is solid and I've always found their support to be good. Pricing is cheap in some ways, but may be expensive for your application.

With regard to your comments:

auto/updating of client -- though this works, it is fairly simplistic and easy to implement on your own.
bus. logic on server -- THE reason for Asta
auto SQL generation -- mostly user for client side clientdataset -- makes it easy to write client side code without having to write Astq code on the server as well.
another layer -- true, but the Asta layer is easy to code for and buys some nice advantages, particularly with respect to threading and marshalling
sql gen. not powerful enough -- when this is true, you will be writing a customer business method anyway, so it is a moot point.
client (program) does not need Asta license, licensing is per asta server and developer.

Alternates: I mentionded RemObjects, and there are some cheap/free alternatives as well. As far as I am concered, Asta and RemObjects are the leading Delphi middleware. Each has its strong points. You should probably evaluate  both of them yourself.

The other alternative you should pehaps consider is a non-delphi middleware sollution. Delphi/Win32 is slowly moving to extinction with .Net or J2EE (or other middleware) being the longer term solution.
BarCode99Author Commented:

Thanks for your comments. You are right in saying that the only real advantage is if you implement midle-tiier logic, and I'm not really sure we even need to (Application to be deployed within one company at one location, so no bandwith concerns and no Internet security issues). I will take a look at RemObjects and discuss further with my coleauges.

I'll keep to question open for now in case anybody else wants to add anything, but I think you have covered it pretty well.

As I was pretty clear, this is not the only advantage of Asta, but it is the most compelling one (as is also the case with RemObjects). Why was Asta recommended in the first place?
BarCode99Author Commented:
A new developer recently joined our team and he has had very good experiences with ASTA for similar (but less complex) projects...

Thanks for your input. The points are yours. We don't have to make any descision for another two weeks, so I think we will continue the discussion inhouse.


Check out also the Midware components from F Piette ... it's freeware
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