How the TOLIS Group used Xojo to develop a high performance data handling backup and restore utility
Tim Jones has long been a recognized name in the Xojo community, though many don’t know his background or how he came to find Xojo. Jones developed an interest in programming while he was serving in the US Coast Guard back in the 1980’s. He became ensnared with the now archaic computing systems on the ships and in the district offices and picked up a Sinclair ZX/80 kit, a TI 99/4A and a Commodore 64 for fun. Jones learned to program these machines in assembler, primarily as a hobby. He later decided to get an Amiga 1000, which gave him his first taste of C; so much more elegant than what he had been using.
Headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, Tim Jones formed the TOLIS Group to develop and support ultra-reliable data backup and restore solutions for end-users and OEMs, based on BRU™ technology they developed. For over 27 years, BRU has offered the highest performance and most robust handling of any available archive/backup and restore solution on the market. Their design and development focuses on ensuring the validity of the data that is written to your backup device. BRU is also the most platform-independent archival and backup solution available, meaning that you can back up data from one platform and restore it successfully on any other platform. It is also device-independent, so you can use a floppy disk or an enterprise class LTO library to archive kilobytes or petabytes of data.
The low level components of BRU and BRU Server have always been written in C and Python. While using Python and the Tkinter framework, which is the standard Python interface to the TkGUI toolkit, they started looking for another solution.
“We were getting dinged on both Mac OS X and Windows platforms because the Tkinter look-and-feel was too different from the platforms’ native look and feel,” commented Jones. “I started digging around looking at other solutions, such as Java Swing and ANT, QT, and TCL/TK, however, these left us in the same situation, as the results were still not native in their look and feel. I was actually pointed to Xojo by a friend in Apple’s Enterprise group.”
“When we first discovered Xojo it was simply a way to easily get the proper native look and feel on the Windows and Mac platforms,” continued Jones. “However, as I became more accustomed to the framework, I started to realize a major improvement in both design tests and flexibility and the rapid turnaround from test to final product.”
Jones sees the major advantage of Xojo being an easy-to-learn framework that is also very deep in platform support. A longtime proponent of a single codebase model, he finds great value in being able to write one set of code for all three major GUI platforms.
“The time from project inception to finished design is much shorter than previously witnessed in Python and Tkinter,” stated Jones. “Also, maintenance of a finished project is much more sane with Xojo than with other development environments. Its ease of development has allowed us to create a user interface for a normally complex task that makes archival of multi-million dollar film properties as easy as drag, drop and click.”
“In addition to all of the great new Xojo features, we also take advantage of the outstanding Monkeybread Software plugins and a few in-house plugins and shared libraries,” added Jones. “The extensibility of Xojo through both the plugin architecture and support for native shared library declares makes it even easier to get the exact results our customers were expecting.”
A major benefit of Xojo is being able to develop for multiple platforms from any platform, saving tons of development time because you can create a native executable for any of these platforms with one code base. Jones works mostly on the Mac platform for design and development, but he does use the Windows and Linux platforms for the fine tuning of UI elements and debugging. His finished apps deploy on one or more platforms because he uses Xojo for multiple released commercial applications.
BRU Server™ is primarily used by corporate environments where heterogeneous backup is required across many different platforms. A single BRU Server server system can provide backup and restore functionality for tens, hundreds, or even thousands, of remote client systems, allowing for centralized management of an organization’s data protection. BRU Produer’s Edition™ is used by film and TV production teams, music producers and editors, and photographers. It has served as the archival technology for major motion pictures, such as The Fast and the Furious franchise, Snow White and the Huntsman, Prometheus, Curious George, and The Borne Ultimatum. The other BRU editions are used by businesses, science and research companies, medical facilities, legal firms, government agencies, technology forensics operations, and many others.
The BRU product line has a pretty broad adoption. The current license counts for all BRU products is over 2 million.
Mac App Store and the Future
“I have a personal project named ‘What’s Playing Now’, that I created so I could follow my iTunes status in the main status bar without keeping the iTunes app locked to all of my desktops, ” offered Jones. “It was originally simply a project for myself and a few office mates, but one of my friends convinced me to submit it to the Mac App Store and it was accepted!
“As for what’s next. . . who knows! We are very busy with the three primary BRU projects!”