So what's metadata and how does a platform that uses a metadata approach help us build and deploy business applications?
Ned Batchelder gives us a good overall explanation that's worth reading. In short, metadata is data about other data: Or information about a thing, apart from the thing itself.
In ancient days when libraries consisted of scrolls, each scroll had a tag so you could tell what was in the scroll without having to unravel it. That tag was metadata.
In today's world, metadata is used to organize, manipulate, shelve, locate, categorize, and otherwise work with data when you don't want to actually deal with the data itself. In software metadata provides information about data so that the data can be worked with in bulk, without having to understand and write all the source code.
Now we can begin to see how this can be useful in cutting the time and costs of building business applications:
Since the main cost in developing RIA, SaaS and other applications is the complex code-writing for the different Client and Server ends of the application, uniPaaS come with a ready-made business application engine that pre-compiles code and pre-configures business logic. This ‘metadata' engine allows developers to bypass the strenuous code-writing stage and focus instead on optimizing the business performance of their application.
With no more intensive code to write there's less chance of project failure and more chance of creating an application that meets business requirements on-time and on-budget.
Who better than our very own Ofer Spiegel (Marketing Product Manager at Magic Software) to illustrate the benefits of ametadata approach when building business applications. Here's the video from his same post comparing uniPaaS with Adobe Flash.