Development Tools

 
 
By eWeek Editors  |  Posted 2002-07-08 Email 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 www.superwaba.com), for example, is an open-source tool with a Java-like language that targets Palm OS and Windows CE devices (see www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/wireless/library/wi-tip13.html).

The Tigris project (www.tigris.org) 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 www.borland.com/kylix).

"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 (www.kdevelop.org), 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 developer.apple.com/darwin) 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 www.opensource.apple.com/apsl), 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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