6 January 2014 — QSA ToolWorks, LLC today announced the release of Helix 6.2.2, two months to the day after shipping 6.2.1. The new release brings Mavericks compatibility to the Helix Client/Server Toolkit and restores the PowerPC Client for those users who still need to use the PowerPC in their networks.
Helix networking now uses Sockets
The shift to Sockets from Open Transport has been on the Helix back burner for some time but with the release of Mavericks, Apple finally cast Open Transport off for good forcing QSA to bump the Sockets project up on the development schedule.
“With each step we take, we always have to consider the other technologies on which we depend,” says QSA’s Gil Numeroff. “Happily, what could easily have been a lengthy infrastructure project was accomplished in a matter of two months, from concept to execution to testing and debugging.”
Stability improvements may be coincidental
Once functionality is achieved, QSA’s engineers consistently devote a lot of energy to performance and stability. This release was no exception.
“Considering the depth of such an undertaking, and given Helix history, we7rsquo;re extremely grateful that the transition to Sockets went as smoothly as it di,” said Numeroff, adding that &ldquoWe tested internally for quite some time before beta testing because there were a handful of very nasty twists and turns getting it up and running, plus we really wanted to be sure we weren’t imagining the stability improvements we were seeing were in our own network.”
It’s too soon, of course, to draw any conclusions, especially about whether these anecdotally observed improvements are related to going to Sockets or just the result of diligent work fixing issues reported from the field.
One step back enables a lot of steps forward
There are still numerous Helix customers running networks that include both Intel and PowerPC Macs. “By releasing the 6.2.1 Toolkit as Intel-only, we inadvertently left a substantial number of Helix users in quandry about upgraading,” says Numeroff. When QSA found that its PowerPC Client software could, with very little additional work be made to function in 6.2.2, they decided to go ahead and include it in this release.
“While the PowerPC is, officially, a discontinued product line, even Apple has to admit that they made pretty good equipment,” says Numeroff, adding that “a lot of people still use them because they still work and now they have the option to continue moving forward, converting their PowerPCs to Intel Macs as it becomes necessary without any major disruption.”
Completing the suite of macOS tools
Helix is an application development and deployment environment that was one of the original thirty software products created for the Macintosh platform prior to its debut in 1984. It is now comprised of five principal applications:
- Helix RADE: the Rapid Application Development Environment, which is used to create applications, called “collections.”
- Helix Engine: a stand-alone tool that allows Helix collections to be deployed as single-user applications.
- Helix Server: used to deploy a Helix collection to a workgroup in both local- and wide-area networks.
- Helix Client: used to connect to a collection hosted by a Helix Server.
- Helix Utility: used to assure the data integrity of a Helix collection.
The future begins now for Helix
The process of getting the Helix product family to macOS necessitated putting aside new feature development except when the new feature derived simply from running in macOS. But now the focus will shift back to what Helix users everywhere may want to see in their favorite database management system.
The company will be conducting some research soon to help firm up its future direction. Helix users have, for several years now, been able to add their suggestions directly to the company’s technical database, and many users have taken advantage of that channel to let QSA know what they want. “There haven been so many ideas submitted that run the gamut from obvious to inspired to outright outrageous” says Numeroff, noting that “We have spent quite a bit of energy deciphering these requests, often communicating directly with people to better understand what they want. Sometimes, enthusiasm can overcome the ability to communicate in a concise and precise manner.”
Helix was created in 1983 by Jonathan Schneider, Larry Atkin, David Harmon and Daniel Cheifetz and originally produced by Odesta Corporation of Northbrook, Illinois in November of 1984. There are Helix users in virtually every country on earth who have been running the product in their businesses and homes almost continuously since 1984. There are very few products on any platform that can boast that kind of longevity through the number of major changes that have occurred in the computer industry since the Macintosh and PC platforms debuted in the 1980s. In spite of its tumultuous history, and the difficulty in pigeonholing the product into any single marketing category, relatively few Helix users abandon the product once they get a taste of how truly powerful and flexible it is.