Create database-driven web apps easily with Evolutility

In biology, evolutility is the capability to change form, volume, or structure. In web software, that capability is what makes applications built with Evolutility different from hard-coded applications. Evolutility aims to allow non-developers to build database-driven web applications without writing code or learning complex abstraction models. The application provides CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) database functionality on the web by generating web forms at run time and handling database calls automatically. It is not a code generator but rather a metadata-driven web application.

Developers can think of Evolutility as a kind of dynamic scaffolding they can use to build professional-looking administration pages quickly. Non-developers can use it to build simple applications, such as a contact list, a to-do list, or any other little application with any set of fields without knowing HTML, SQL, or JavaScript.

One ideal use might be to create a vertical application that needs to be customized for several customers. If you build the application with Evolutility rather than hard-coding it, each customer can easily add entities, and add or remove fields from any page to better fit its particular needs.

Evolutility’s creator, Olivier Giulieri, says he fell in love with metadata in 1993 while working at BusinessObjects. “Since that time I wanted to write metadata-driven applications, but the trend was code re-use and not metadata-driven code. In 2000 I wrote my first metadata framework and application. I began Evolutility as a side project in 2003.

“I built Evolutility for ASP.Net and SQL Server because those were the tools I knew best. I wrote the user interface from scratch because when I started there were no stable Javascript UI libraries like JQueryUI or YUI yet. Later, I added a datepicker (from Julian Robichaux), a lightbox (from Emanuele Feronato), a rich text editor (CKeditor), and silk icons (from Mark James).

“I decided to open source Evolutility in 2008 because I wanted people to try it, and wanted to get some help from other developers. Also, other metadata CRUD frameworks were commercial products, and I didn’t see any open source applications in that category. I hosted it on SourceForge because it has a well-known brand, it allows AGPL licensing, and it is not platform-specific.”

Evolutility is itself evolving. Giulieri says he plans to decouple the UI from data access, moving most UI code to JavaScript. He wants to support more platforms, including Windows and iPhone. And he hopes to build some vertical applications, “because most people look for apps, not tools to build their own apps.”

Giulieri says he could use technical help “for development, QA, documentation, and translations, but I’m also hoping for business or marketing help so that this open source project can become a real company.” You can contact him via e-mail.


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