IBM Gears Up for Modeling

Model Driven Architecture support in Eclipse 2.0 will enable developers to create applications based on models rather than hand coding.

IBM is readying new features for its open-source development platform that will speed application development, but what users are most intrigued by is planned full support for Model Driven Architecture.

The support for MDA, which will be included in Eclipse Version 2.0 when it is released this fall, will enable developers to create applications based on models rather than hand coding, which also reduces cost.

To make it happen, IBM will tap its EMF (Eclipse Modeling Framework) technology and incorporate it into Eclipse 2.0, according to company officials. MDA will be a core development technology for integrating tools with Eclipse.

Eclipse currently includes limited support of MDA through plug-ins from Rational Software Corp., said Sridhar Iyengar, an IBM distinguished engineer with the companys Application and Integration Middleware group, in Raleigh, N.C.

EMF, internal IBM technology the company uses in its WebSphere integration solutions, is a step above other options, which enable integration of tools and data only at the metadata and model levels, said Iyengar.

"This means you can integrate at the business-model level or application-model level," he said. "EMF has baked into it several key technologies that make it easier to do tool integration. And much of the code is generated by the tool."

Iyengar said the technology is key for users developing Web services and UML (Unified Modeling Language) and XML applications.

Along with MDA support, Eclipse 2.0 will include a new plug-in design featuring wizards to ease deployment of Eclipse plug-ins; support for Sun Microsystems Inc.s Java Development Kit 1.4; and enhanced team programming models to enable a team of developers to work together more easily using Eclipse.

But support for MDA is the key, said Eric Newcomer, chief technology officer at Iona Technologies plc., a Web services and enterprise application integration products supplier.

"MDA and its relationship to UML are very important emerging technologies, especially as it relates to service-oriented architectures and Web services," said Newcomer, in Waltham, Mass.

"MDA tools allow us to maximize the use of this metadata in order to maintain a level of technology independence and to ultimately maximize our organizations agility to successfully respond to both new opportunities and changing market conditions," said Robert Vietmeyer, chief engineer for command and control transformation at the Defense Information Systems Agency, in Arlington, Va.

Rational—which also licenses its modeling technology to Microsoft Corp.—Hewlett-Packard Co. and Borland Software Corp. are among the growing number of development tool vendors that support MDA. In May, Sun introduced MDA support in its NetBeans open-source development platform.

"If IBM is supporting MDA, it means they are starting to get it," said Simon Phipps, Suns chief technology evangelist, in Santa Clara, Calif.

Ismail Khriss, director of product management at Codagen Technologies Corp., in Montreal, said MDA support is necessary for NetBeans and Eclipse.

"All repository-based tools should implement Meta-Object Facility [a component of MDA] because it is the standard for describing metamodels," Khriss said.

IBMs decision "is terrific news for both the rapidly growing MDA user base and the open-source community in general," said Richard Soley, chairman and CEO of Object Management Group, the Needham, Mass., standards body that oversees the UML and MDA standards. "Support for OMGs MDA concepts and standards in Eclipse rapidly broadens the availability and choice in MDA tool sets."