IBM Tool Helps Connect Code

Enterprise developer combines Web, Java, XML apps into one IDE.

An irony of Javas success in the application server space is that non-Java developers have been shut out of that strategic middle tier.

IBMs WebSphere Studio Enterprise Developer 5.0 development tool, released in an Early Availability version at the end of September, provides z/OS (zSeries Operating System) developers who know COBOL, z/OS assembler, PL/I (Programming Language One) or IBMs high-level Enterprise Generation Language with ways to connect that code with IBMs WebSphere application server and other, newer technologies such as XML and Web services.

The z/OS emulator in Enterprise Developer even lets z/OS developers test z/OS assembler code right on their PCs. (z/OS is the flagship operating system of the IBM eServer mainframe.)

The package is classified as Early Availability code because the included test version of WebSphere 5.0 is still beta code. WebSphere 4.0 is also included, as is The Apache Software Foundations Tomcat application server.

One of the major advances in this version of Enterprise Developer is full support for J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) 1.3 development, including EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) 2.0, the EJB 2.0 query language and message-driven beans. WebSphere 4.0 cant run J2EE 1.3 code.

Final code for Enterprise Developer will ship next month. Enterprise Developer runs only on Windows now but will support Linux in the future. Enterprise Developer costs $7,500 per CPU.

Enterprise Developer is at the top of a pyramid of development tools, now beginning to ship, that replace IBMs VisualAge line of Java IDEs (integrated development environments). Enterprise Developer is a full Java IDE hosted in IBMs Eclipse Java IDE framework, which is open source in a way thats similar to how Sun Microsystems Inc. builds its Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Studio development tools on its open-source Java IDE NetBeans.

For straight Java and J2EE development, eWeek Labs still favors Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder, which has great maturity and polish and supports all the leading application servers. IBMs tools, in contrast, are very focused on its own products.

Borlands acquisition last month of TogetherSoft Corp. (and TogetherSofts earlier acquisition of WebGain Inc.s Java IDE WebGain Studio) really shakes up the Java tools market and creates an impressive collection of technology—if Borland can successfully digest what it has now swallowed.

Enterprise Developers price is on the high end for the tools market but is reasonable if adopters use the non-Java components of the suite. IBMs straight Java offering is WebSphere Studio Application Developer 5.0 Early Availability (at $3,499 per CPU).

IBM will also ship Version 5.0 releases of WebSphere Studio Site Developer, an HTML and JSP (JavaServer Pages) tool; and WebSphere Studio Application Developer Integration Edition, which provides a J2EE 1.3 development environment as well as J2EE connectors for IBMs Customer Information Control System, Information Management System and its Host on Demand terminal access product.

Enterprise Developer is up-to-date in its IDE technology: Background compilation automatically underlined syntax errors in our test code, and a local source code repository let us easily compare current code with past saves without having to explicitly set up a source code control system (these are also supported, of course). Eight refactorings—rename, move, pull up, modify parameters, extract method, extract local variable, inline local variable and self-encapsulate field—are also supported (see screen).

Enterprise Developer offers editing and debugging support for XML, XPath, XML Schema and Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations. We also liked Enterprise Developers tools to assemble Web services and data transformation components into collections of larger composite Web services—this is an approach that will make sense for many organizations as Web services become more common.

Enterprise Developers extensive support for Apaches JSP and Java Servlets Struts development framework is notable. Graphical tools and wizards to build Struts projects will really help Web application builders enforce separation between presentation and back-end logic code.

West Coast Technical Director Timothy Dyck is at timothy_dyck@ziffdavis.com.