IBM Upgrades Java Tools

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2004-05-04

IBM Upgrades Java Tools

With simplified development and broad platform support as key goals, IBM Corp. Tuesday announced new versions of its Java development tools and its Rational suite of application lifecycle tools.

IBMs Lexington, Mass.-based Rational Software division announced new versions of the IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD) and WebSphere Studio Site Developer (WSSD) that feature ease-of-use capabilities that rival Microsoft Corp. tooling as well as efforts by Java tool makers such as BEA Systems Inc., with their WebLogic WorkShop tool, and Sun Microsystems Inc., with their upcoming Java Studio Creator (also known by its code name, Project Rave).

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of the Java Studio Creator beta.

Eric Naiburg, group market manager of desktop products at IBM Rational Software, said of the new features in WSAD 5.1.2 and WSSD 5.1.2: "This set of functionality is around making Java development easier."

The new products include support for JavaServer Faces (JSF), which simplifies the development of rich user interface; Service Data Objects, a proposed data access standard jointly developed by IBM and BEA; EGL (Enterprise Generation Language), a fourth-generation language for procedural programmers moving to object-oriented development environments like Java; and enhanced tools for portal and portlet development, Naiburg said.

"One of the things we heard from customers is its too hard to develop user interfaces in J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition], so the Java world has a standard to be used for easily building rich user interfaces—JSF, which we support," said Lee Nackman, vice president of desktop development tools and chief technology officer at IBM Rational.

Nackman said the new WSAD and WSSD tools have features "akin to the things people are used to in [Microsofts] Visual Basic," a target both BEA and Sun also set for their simplified Java tool sets.

However, compared to Suns upcoming tool, which is set to ship this summer, "Were actually first to deliver," Nackman said. "Rave is delivering beta. We delivered beta last year and built on top of our development environment."

Naiburg said the addition of JSF and SDO support leads to Java development with limited coding, where developers can drag and drop JSF components.

"SDO provides an abstraction of data access," Nackman said. "A developer can just drag and drop components onto a palette," and with SDO, "you get the benefits of a thick client but the manageability of a browser-based application."

Meanwhile, Naiburg said EGL can be a tool for "developers who are coming off other projects, like Cobol projects, and they can move into creating EJBs [Enterprise JavaBeans] and other things."

IBM officials said EGL enables developers familiar with procedural coding and fourth-generation languages to build Java applications without having to learn Java or object-oriented programming, because the EGL code is interpreted into Java.

Next page: IBMs software development message

Page Two

In an interview with eWEEK, Steve Mills, IBMs senior vice president and group executive in charge of IBMs Software Group, said he sees software development as key to enabling a company to operate in an on-demand environment.

He said, "Things reached a point as I looked at the kinds of applications customers were trying to build, and the need for deeper connection to IBM middleware technology, more focus on building end-to-end process integrating applications," and thats when IBM acquired Rational.

Now the Rational Unified Process is a part of IBMs software development message. Under RUP, IBM encourages its developers and customers applying the process to develop iteratively, focus on architecture, continuously ensure quality and manage change and assets.

Click here to read more about how the IBM-Rational merger is paying off.

Indeed, IBM officials said these concepts are all achieved through the IBM Rational Suite, particularly the latest version, IBM Rational Suite version 2003.06.12, which became available last month.

The suite includes coding, modeling, testing and change management tools. Included in the IBM Rational Suite are: Rational XDE, Rational PurifyPlus, Rational ClearCase, IBM Rational Rose, IBM Rational Robot, the MDA (Model Driven Architecture) Toolkit for IBM Rational, and IBM Rational TestManager, among other components, the company said.

The suite features tight integration with WebSphere Studio and the Eclipse open-source development platform, as well as extended platform coverage for database design, particularly for IBMs DB2 database on the companys iSeries and z/OS systems. The suite also supports the Microsoft Visual Studio tool set and all the Visual Studio languages, the company said.

The IBM Rational Suite also features testing support through Rational Robot for Visual Studio, Sybase Inc.s PowerBuilder, Borland Software Corp.s Delphi and Oracle Forms.

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