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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

4th Dimension: Evolution Exemplified


Laurent Ribardière formulated 4D or the 4th Dimension, previously called Silver Surfer, in 1984. It was publicly launched for Mac in 1987. Since then, it has evolved phenomenally, principally by generating plug-ins and modification of functionalities. RDBMS and IDE are available in a variety of languages and all the products are locally oriented. The 4D app operates in either client-server or standalone mode. 4D has a marketing, supply, and aid-oriented footprint in the UK, the US, and France.

  • 4th Dimension, also known as Silver Surfer or 4D, as it was called throughout the initial development phase, is an IDE (integrated development environment) and RDBMS (relational database management system) formulated by Laurent Ribardière, the founder of 4D SAS, a France-based software firm.  
  • 4th Dimension came into existence with the formation of the US subsidiary of 4D SAS in 1984.
  • 4D had a somewhat deferred public launch in 1987 for Macintosh and it was authored in its indigenous Programming Language.
  • Since that period, the merchandise line of 4D has grown into a unified compiler, SQL back-end, a combination of PHP, as well as various efficient user interfaces, and add-ons/plugins. 
  • 4th Dimension can also be applied in the form of a web server, for operating compiled database usages.   

Add-ons Generated by 4D: Key Functionalities

Certain add-ons generated by 4D incorporate the following:

  • 4D View (slightly similar to a spreadsheet, however, features additional operations) 
  • 4D Write (it is a type of word processor) 
  • 4D Internet Commands (that enable you to include all types of web-oriented operations in a database).

How Many 4D Add-ons/Plugins are There?

More than one hundred third-party add-ons are there, all of them are open-source and for business purposes. 

 What is the Present Application of 4D?

Currently, 4th Dimension is released by 4D SAS, the France-based firm. It has wide marketing, supply, and assistance-oriented footprint in the majority of markets with France, the United Kingdom, and the United States as the principal marketplaces

The 4th Dimension products and services are oriented locally in a range of languages such as the following:

  • French
  • English 
  • Japanese 
  • German 
  • Hebrew
  • Czech 
  • Korean 
  • Arabic 
  • Persian

How did 4D Originate?

4D, the brainchild of Laurent Ribardière, came into existence in 1984. Its name in the nascent phase was Silver Surfer. Apple Inc. (erstwhile Apple Computer Incorporated) somehow got keen to officially release the software after arbitration with Laurent. Nevertheless, Apple dropped the scheme, apparently because of insistency from other prospective database releasers who asserted that if Apple Inc. had an indigenous database that would cause tremendous loss to third-party merchandise in the markets. 

At that moment, Apple Inc. attempted to make sure that reputed software releasers backed the Macintosh interface. Consequently, the mission went back to Ribardière. He launched 4D with the help of Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, a lady business tycoon in France. 

Even though 4D was autonomously launched, Apple Inc. backed the new project. The IT behemoth utilized the 4th Dimension comprehensively across the firm for ventures comprising Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) and fitness hub supervision.

Several employees of Apple turned into 4th Dimension professionals such as Andrew O’Donoghue in the Irish-oriented European fabrication head office of Apple and Lance McAndrew in the Cupertino (California) head office of the company. Besides, the European head office had a 4D application handling the whole establishment of the European Service Hub.

The Growth Phase of 4D 

During the following few years, the setup foundation of 4D expanded phenomenally and ACI, the launcher founded a US-oriented subsidiary the name of which was ACIUS. In the beginning, Guy Kawasaki, the US-based writer, marketing analyst, as well as Silicon Valley venture capitalist, spearheaded ACIUS.  

Following an extensive period of sixteen years of operation as ACIUS till 2000, its name got formally modified to 4D Inc.


This year, the client/server version of 4D, also known as 4D Server v1.1, was launched together with the launch of 4D v3.1.


This year, 4th Dimension v3.5 turned cross-platform. Since that time, it has been backing up both the Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows OSs.


This year, 4th Dimension version 6 became the oldest version of 4th Dimension to incorporate a completely consolidated web server, enabling software developers to decode 4th Dimension forms into HTML while in motion or progress with the help of just the 4th Dimension language.


This year, 4D 2004 became the oldest edition of 4D for enabling developers to generate client/server, unconnected, Internet, and Service-Oriented Applications (SOA) with no modification of any code.


This year, 4th Dimension version 11 included an SQL layer to the 4th Dimension database engine and spreading indigenous SQL into the 4th Dimension programming language that enabled 4th Dimension developers to author indigenous SQL code for linking to either remote or local servers.


This year, 4th Dimension version 12 incorporated the attribute for carrying out PHP operations/sequence of instructions from inside the 4th Dimension programming language. This edition also backed up fresh reproduction and sync controls and comprised a 64-bit version of the 4th Dimension Server.

4th Dimension Architecture 

A 4th Dimension app can operate in either Client Server or Standalone mode.

Single-user format

The 4th Dimension app in standalone mode (the extension is 4D.app on Mac and 4D.exe on Windows) is utilized for booting the structure file (either 4DC or 4DB) straightaway together with the related 4DD or data file.

Client-server format  

The 4th Dimension server app (the extension is 4DServer.app on Mac and 4DServer.exe on Windows) is utilized for booting the structure file (either 4DC or 4DB) straightaway together with the related 4DD or data file in the client-server prototype. 4th Dimension may subsequently be utilized in an isolated mode for linking to the 4th Dimension server.

4D Application Versions

4th Dimension features two applications and they are 4D Server and 4D. 4th Dimension server operates exclusively in the form of a server. However, 4D can operate in either isolated or standalone (unconnected) mode.

4D Server

4th Dimension Server is utilized for Client-Server accessibility to the app. This way enables the 4th Dimension server in loading the structure file (4DC or 4DB) and the data file as well. Besides, it offers network access to the 4th Dimension in an isolated manner.  

Every workstation features an automatically modified cache of the properties they are operating with. At the same time, the 4th Dimension server preserves the code and the data.


4th Dimension or 4D can operate in two modes. The single-user mode enables just one individual to operate the app. On the other hand, the 4th Dimension in isolated mode is utilized for linking to a 4th Dimension server.

4D Data Types    

The variables, fields, and expressions comprise the following data categories:

  • String   
  • Date
  • Number
  • Boolean
  • Time
  • Pointer
  • Picture
  • Array
  • BLOB
  • Float 
  • Integer 64 bits
  • Undefined 
  • Object

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Josie Patra
Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

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