Development Tools

By eWeek Editors  |  Posted 2002-07-08 Print this article Print

Development Tools

There are three overlapping definitions of "open-source tool." The simplest refers to tools that are themselves open source, whether targeted at open or proprietary platforms. Waba (at, for example, is an open-source tool with a Java-like language that targets Palm OS and Windows CE devices (see

The Tigris project ( seeks to harness the collaborative spirit of open-source efforts to create improved software engineering tools, in the hope of elevating the overall state of the art, irrespective of the eventual target platform.

Other open-source tools are those that are offered, whether freely or as commercial products, for use in building open-source projects—with libraries and other resources that can be freely disclosed along with developer- written code. Borland Software Corp.s Kylix, for example, comes in a freely distributed Open Edition, which is a fully open-source tool with GNU GPL (General Public License)-distributable libraries (see

"Any source code that goes into an application, we believe, must have at least the option of going open source," said Michael Swindell, Borlands rapid application development tool director, in a recent conversation with eWeek Labs. "Thats why all the Kylix libraries are built for a dual path."

Kylix uses only Borlands object-Pascal Delphi language but will add C++ later this summer with the release of Kylix 3. It will have to compete with KDevelop (, a GNU GPL C/C++ environment already running on Linux under K Desktop Environment and also on Windows and Mac OS X.

Finally, a commercial tool set may be offered in a version that builds proprietary applications for an open-source platform, combining the low deployment cost of open-source nodes (such as point-of-sale or customer kiosk terminals) with high-end database access and other enterprise-oriented facilities. Kylix, in its Professional and Enterprise editions, enjoys high popularity in this category as well.

"The troubles of [Microsoft Corp.s Internet Information Services] have been a major boon" for enterprise development on open-source platforms, said Swindell—not gleefully but without apology for taking advantage of the resulting opportunities. Borlands Web services development aids in Kylix, for services hosted on Apache, have been well-received.

The company has also benefited from upfront design for portability from Windows-hosted Delphi development. In one case, said Simon Thornhill, vice president of Borland, based in Scotts Valley, Calif., a consultant estimated a one-week effort to port a Delphi project from Windows to Linux, but the actual time was 2 hours.

Many use "open source" as the generic term for "Linux," but the open-source Darwin (at operating system is the core of Apple Computer Inc.s Mac OS X; a streaming media server is another major open-source project using Apples Mach-based technology. Apples licensing terms have been controversial (see, and development teams should fully understand the interactions between the tools they adopt and the licensing options they want to retain. —Peter Coffee


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