QSA ToolWorks, LLC today announced the release of Helix 6.1.6, a maintenance release significant because it marks the end of the "Preview Release" phase for the company's OS X Helix Client and Helix Engine products.
In keeping with QSA's policy of making technology available as soon as it becomes functional, the company began a series of "Preview Releases" of their OS X user interface products in 2008. Initial Preview Releases had very limited OS X functionality; if users needed the full-suite of Helix tools, they were able to fall back on the Classic versions of those products.
The Preview Release phase was a race against time. Old machines were dying off and new ones didn't run Classic. Each new release brought the OS X interface closer to completion, but the performance was not up to the standards seen in previous versions. QSA decided, shortly after the release of 6.1.5 in December 2009 that it would devote the next development cycle to making the products run as well or better in OS X than they did in Classic, and today the fruits of that labor are at last available. Users and developers now have an easily-deployable OS X operating environment and the company can move on to completing the OS X transition for their sole remaining Classic application, Helix RADE.
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 comprised of eight principal applications:
- Helix RADE: the Rapid Application Development Environment, which is used to create applications, called "collections." RADE has two operating methods: Design mode and User Mode. RADE may also be used to deploy an application for a single user (User Mode).
- Helix Engine: a User Mode access tool that allows a Helix collection to be used but not modified. Engine is often distributed with Helix collections when designers produce demos of commercial collections.
- Helix Server: used to deploy a Helix collection to a workgroup in both local- and wide-area networks, using TCP/IP.
- Helix Client: used to visit a collection hosted by a Helix Server.
- Helix Utility: used to assure the data integrity of a Helix collection.
- Update Collection: used to update a Helix collection to the latest version of Helix and to assure a collection's structural integrity.
- Helix Developer Utility: a set of tools for the professional Helix application developer.
- Helix Maintenance Manager: a tool to automate the Helix maintenance process, including the ability to schedule and perform backups, diagnostics and notify the user of the results.
Helix 6 features a native OS X Helix Server, Helix Client, Helix Engine, Helix Utility and Update Collection. The line also includes two Classic applications: Helix RADE and the Classic Helix Client. A native OS X version of Helix RADE is still in development and will be rolled out in a series of Preview Releases just as was done with the products that debuted today. A Platform-independent Helix Client (PiHC) is also in the early stages of production. PiHC will allow Helix collections to be deployed to diverse workgroups using Macintosh, Windows, Linux and other operating systems.
In addition to its ability to allow Clients both local and remote to simultaneously access a Helix collection, Helix 6 features for the first time, the ability to maintain databases larger than 2 GBytes and provides a host of new features (many of which are already familiar to Helix users as they were included in versions leading up to this release) and numerous performance enhancements and improvements.
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 often difficult history, relatively few Helix users abandon the product once they get a taste of how truly powerful and flexible it is.