Power ECMAScripting

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Hector W. McNeill

The author of these web pages is Hector McNeill. Hector is the Director of SEEL1 and has been designing and implementing Cloud systems using Power ECMAScripting since 2000 using server side DScript™, the ECMAScript server side extension language, core ECMAScript and client side ECMAScript. Hector will explain technical and economic aspects and provide tutorials on how to design and implement (code) cost-effective and stable applications. His main systems development experience has been in agronomy, agricultural economics and agricultural sector implementations.

How I discovered ECMAScript....

"In 1999 I was faced with a very difficult specification to create a farm extension system that was able to help farmers plan their farms online making use of the input-output data collected by the European Farm Accoutancy Data Network (FADN). Certainly the languages I was using could not meet the spec because they were inadequate for web-based operations. I discovered DScript1 as a reference at the bottom of an academic report reviewing "decision support" systems. So I telephoned Rob Suggs, the creator of DScript1, to find out more. Rob described something I could hardly believe existed; he concluded our relatively short chat with the words..."Try it, you will love it!".

"In spite of considerable doubts I downloaded a trial. Because I did not, at that time, know much about ECMAScript it wasn't that easy to switch but by using DScript1, which is simpler and far more powerful than ECMAScript, I was able to obtain impresssive results within a few days. I therefore purchased the system to design and implement the farm planning system which was completed above spec, on time and within budget. I then went on from there to more complex systems".

Vanguard 's range of products has always evolved in terms of functionality, ease of use and stability. The DScript server I purchased a 16 years ago had been running non-stop, without hitch. However Vanguard upgraded their system and I switched to the new system and Vanguard Server, which is a marked improvement in terms of ease of management."

"People often do not realise how many computer languages die each year so taking the decision to switch to ECMAScript at that time was, therefore, not easy. The standard had only appeared 18 months before in 1997 and JavaScript had only been released in 24 months before that with Netscape 2.00, having changed its name from Live Script. By 1999 the server end extension DScript™2 had also been created, demonstrating some foresight on Sugg's part. However, since then, I have been happy to see that most major web software systems developers have turned to various flavours of ECMAScript; I think I took the right decision. Broadly this follows a trend to more agile, flexible, and yet powerful systems, based on scripting."

"The mystery has always been that with so much power at one's finger tips using server side ECMAScript extensions like DScript™2 that the server side is not yet dominated by ECMAScript. This is the next frontier for Brendan Eich's JavaScript. I think it is appropriate to recognise the significance of Brendan Eich's pioneering work in creating JavaScript and also the importance of Netscape recognising the importance of offering this technology to develop a standard at ECMA and ISO and his continued efforts in the domain of Mozilla. I believe this move plus the nature of JavaScript and its object orientation has provided the robust foundation for web scripting that we benefit from today and which, as a whole, provides the resources for Power ECMAScripting".


Hector is a graduate of Cambridge University in agriculture as well as post graduation in agricultural economics including biometry & project evaluation. He completed a masters in international development economics at Stanford University where he also studied systems engineering at the Stanford Electrical Engineering School. His first job was as a teachuing assistant at the School of Electrical Engineering at Stanford. He then worked in Brazil as a researcher in remote sensing managing the agricultural and forestry section of the Brazilian Remote Sensing Programme working in collaboration with NASA and the National Research Council. He has worked for several international organizations including the UN Food & Agricultutre Organization, the World Bank, European Commission and the governments of the United Kingdom, Brazil, Hungary, Peru, Romania, Mozambique and Bosnia & Herzegovina, largely in the agricultural sectors related to strategic planning, policy development, decision analysis systems and econometric modelling, agricultural market information systems, agricultural statistics and regulatory systems. Other systems applications have included a major consignment management system, EU traceability system, international commodity exchange systems for fresh produce and barcode-enabled process control systems.

He founded SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab in 1983 that span off several web-based services including Navatec and Navatec Voyager. He heads the SEEL R&D programmes on Virtual Client Technology and Locational State Theory and has headed the development of the Real Incomes Approach to Economics, a comprehensive alternative macroeconomic policy approach, since its initiation in 1975.

1  SEEL is the Systems Engineering Economics Lab, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK.
2  DScript™ was developed by Rob Suggs and is also a trademark of Vanguard Software Corporation, Cary, NC, USA.

The Decision Analysis Initiative 2010-2015
George Boole Foundation