To overcome the 3GL limitations and in direct response to the need for development tools that allowed programmers to create user-intense applications quickly and easily, Informix created and refined a new fourth-generation language. The Informix 4GL product family evolved to give developers a more flexible, phrase-driven language that incorporated preprogrammed solutions for today's most common user/database-interface functions. Informix 4GL solutions added three important components to the developer's toolkit: flexible, easy-to-access forms, reports and menus, plus compilation times that were anywhere from 10 to 20 times faster than comparable third-generation language applications. Because underneath these more advanced capabilities the newer 4GL products still generate a foundation of C code, developers have the ability to link in their own C code to tackle highly optimized jobs.

The very first Informix 4GL product was, in fact, a straight C code generator and was ideally suited to creating customized applications utilizing pop-up windows, built-in help, complete procedural and non-procedural controls, ring menus and scrolling arrays. The product's non-procedural statements--such as OPEN WINDOW, MENU, SELECT and others--allows developers to accomplish, in just a few lines, actions that would require literally hundreds of lines of code in a third-generation language.

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