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November 27, 2009

TIBCO Developers Library – What is TIBCO General Interface?

TIBCO General Interface

The primary objective of software developers is to create applications that function efficiently and conform to the needs of the end-users. However, an effective program must have a look and feel that is somewhat favorable for the users. This is where TIBCO General Interface can be very useful because it allows TIBCO developers to create the interface for their efficiently working applications.

What is TIBCO General Interface?

When General Interface (GI) application is deployed in a web browser, it can function as a client-installed software that is locally installed in your computer. This means that when the applications developed in GI are deployed on a web browser, it can perform with the speed, performance, and features that are just like software installed in your own computers.

What is great about GI is that it has a visual authoring environment which allows the developers to create applications and deploy them quickly. Also, the visual authoring environment can run as an independent tool or integrated into any IDE that you like.

What is the advantage of GI over Thick Client?

Thick clients are applications that are installed in your computer. General Interface’s advantage over these applications is that it is much easier and cheaper than thick applications because you don’t need to buy and install new software in your computers for the application to run. All you need is a web browser.

What is the advantage of GI over Thin Client?

Just for an overview, a thin client is a client computer which is connected to a central server. The advantage of GI over thin clients is that it provides better speed, performance and necessary business logic to function as an efficient application, so that processing on the server will be minimized.

What does it mean when we say that GI is AJAX-based?

Applications developed in GI are fast because they can retrieve only the needed data in contrast to getting all the data from the server. For example, there is an employee data in the server that has the fields of employee_id, name, department, bday and other fields. Using GI which is AJAX-based, we can just retrieve the employee_id, name, and department instead of getting all the employee data because we may not need all the other information in our application.

What is a server-based MVC architecture?

A server based MVC is composed of the Model, View, and Controller. The model is in charge of managing information and notifying the user if there are changes in the information. The View is used to draw GUI objects. It is attached to the model and draws its contents in the display area. When there are changes in the model, then the view redraws the GUI. The controller is in charge of controlling the model and view based on the input of the user.
In this setup, the browser is just like a display area because all the processing is done on the server. It is also slower because the server will submit a new page during every input of the user.

What is TIBCO GI’s MVC architecture?

The GI’s MVC architecture has the model and controller on the server but the view component is running on the browser. Also, the view component has its own MVC architecture which turns the browser into an environment where the user and the application can interact without bothering the web server all the time. Thus, there are only few processes running on the server. This will greatly improve the performance of the application.

What are the requirements for installing TIBCO GI?

Installing TIBCO GI does not require too much from your system. It will only consume more or less 100MB of disk space and it can already function efficiently with only 512MB of RAM.

For the software requirements, it can run with XP Pro from Service Pack 1 to older versions, VISTA, and WINDOWS 2003 Server. The minimum version required for Internet Explorer is only 6.0 and for Firefox are 2.0 and 1.5.x versions.
This means that you don’t need to have the latest computers or the newest versions of the software to be able to use TIBCO General Interface.

What is a CDF?

CDF stands for Common Data Format. It is a document which contains a common XML schema that can be used by different components. In GI, a CDF document can be used and displayed in Grids, Lists, and Charts.
The data stored in CDF are somewhat similar to the data stored in databases because both data can be accessed by external components.

For example, an application can retrieve data from the database and use or display this data as needed by the application. In GI, the data retrieved from the CDF can also be used, mapped and displayed using different components such as Grids, Lists, and Charts.

What are charts?

Generally, the term chart refers to a visual representation of data. This also applies to the charts used in GI because they are used to represent data in a visual manner which is different from data representation using tables, grid, and lists.

In TIBCO General Interface, charting is offered as an added option which means that it does not require any additional installation or plug-ins before it can be used.

Furthermore, charts in GI make use of a common data format which can also be used by other GI components.

How do you customize GI applications?

Customizing GI applications can be done in four different ways.

o Dynamic properties

· These are used to override the default properties so that the look and feel of your application conforms to the requirements of the client or the company.

· The good thing about dynamic properties is that once you have created it in .JSS file, it can be reused by other applications.

o Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

· These can be used to change the appearance of your application provided that the property for an object that you are changing is not set elsewhere in your application.


· You can also customize your application by merging XSL and XML files or by adding XSL parameters to your GI components.

o Spyglass

· These are data displayed in a pop-up window when you mouse over certain components in your application.

How do you deploy applications using GI?

Deploying applications in GI can be done in three different ways:

o HTML Page

· As its name suggests, this is a page in HTML format. When you double-click this page, your application will be displayed in your web browser.

o Launch Link

· This is embedded into another HTML page where a link for your application will be created. When the link is clicked, your application will be displayed.

o Inline DIV

· This is added into another HTML page and it will be displayed in the same HTML page as another division. Your application may run along with other applications in that page.

What are the best practices in developing GI applications?

Some of the best practices in GI can be achieved through:

o Correctly referencing your application when deployed on a web server because the location of your files while developing your application differs when they are already deployed on the web server.

o Using your own application’s unique namespace so that naming conflicts during deployment will be minimized if not completely resolved.

o Changing the deployment mode into live mode so that your application will be able to call web services.

o Using the static mode if you are not calling any web service. This mode is usually used for testing and developing applications.

TIBCO General Interface is truly a great tool for both creating an interface for your already working applications and for developing your own web-based application. This tool is so easy to use and its output and end results are really amazing.

NOTE: This article was written by one of the TIBCO Certified Professionals of Xmarter, Inc., a technology consulting firm that specializes in delivering business solutions using TIBCO technology. To schedule a technical interview with the consultants, send an email to

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