Enterprise Studio for C++ unites diverse environments but isn't easy to use.
The ultimate instrument of torture in the late Douglas Adams novel "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" was the Total Perspective Vortexa chamber in which the victim was forced to see "the entire unimaginable infinity of creation" with the victims tiny self shown to accurate scale. A software developer firing up a copy of Borland Software Corp.s new Enterprise Studio for C++ may get some idea of how that feels. The product consolidates a huge amount of complexity into a package that is, well, hugely complex.
Enterprise Studio for C++
Borlands $5,000 Enterprise Studio achieves useful but not entirely seamless integration among a massive portfolio of associated design and management aids.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
PRO: Supports Windows, Linux and Solaris with aids to convenient switching among C++ compilers, debuggers and related development tools; links UML visualization and other life-cycle tasks to GUI workbench.
CON: Notable differences between environment GUI behavior and familiar Windows/ Macintosh conventions; separate, although linked, tool environments fail to achieve transparent interaction.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
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Priced at $5,000, Enterprise Studio for C++ is a superset of the packages Borland has built around its C++BuilderX IDE (integrated development environment). It includes the InterBase Developer Edition and Enterprise Server for database and CORBA-based applications, respectively; the Full Edition of the Together design and analysis tool; the Trial Edition of the CaliberRM requirements management workbench; and the Personal Edition of the StarTeam configuration management system.
Enterprise Studio for C++ also includes IBMs DB2 Universal Developers Edition; Microsoft Corp.s SQL Server 2000 Developer Edition; Intel Corp. developer aids, including the VTune Performance Analyzer; and development libraries for the Symbian mobile operating system and the Microsoft .Net framework.
But Borland doesnt just put a dozen or so code-filled CDs into one box. (More complete manuals would be most welcome.) It also ties the tools separate environments together with menus and synchronization aids.
For example, a right-click on a project elements node in the C++ project view brings up a menu that includes the option of displaying that component in a Together UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagram. Making that choice opens the Together tool and selects that element in the corresponding structural view. However, we sometimes had to repeat that menu pick after the Together project had opened to make that process run to completion.
This level of integration, though helpful, is memory-intensive because multiple IDEs get loaded at once.
A developer who moves among C++ compilers and associated tools can use C++BuilderX to reduce the burdens of all those different command-line parameter strings, but other aspects of complexity are reduced only in that putting things in one place makes them easier to find.
The X in C++BuilderX is a cross, as in "cross-platform." The tools come out of the box ready to install on Windows, Linux or Solaris workstations with a recommended gigabyte of memory and 500MHz-or-faster CPU.
Borland says the new C++ environment is based on the same foundation as JBuilder, and the two share some quirks. For example, in mainstream GUIs, double-clicking on a word and dragging the mouse extends the selection in whole-word increments. Doing this in the source code editor of JBuilder or C++BuilderX grabs the first double-clicked word and moves it. As weve noted many times, a non-native GUI almost always shows differences that are jarring to experienced users.
But then again, heterogeneity is the name of the game that C++BuilderX is built to play. Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
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Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.