Sun Microsystems Inc. this week will announce a new version of its Forte for Java tool set, as well as a new edition of the product that targets the Internet.
Forte for Java 2.0 will be available in two editions, the entry-level Community Edition, which is designed for client-side development, and the Internet Edition, which is positioned for server-side development.
Both editions are based on the open-source IDE (integrated development environment) framework called NetBeans, which provides a modular architecture and the ability to plug in third-party tools.
A new feature to both editions is the ability to do "just-in-time" upgrades. At the click of a button, developers can query the Sun Web site and make sure they are using the latest version of a particular module, rather than wait for yearly upgrades or patch fixes.
Other new features are specific to the Internet Edition. The first is added support for JavaServer Pages 1.1 and Version 2.2 of servlets, which also provides support for tag libraries and enhanced tools for editing and debugging.
The intended user for the Internet Edition is "anyone building Web pages in Java," said Drew Engstrom, Suns product line manager, in Oakland, Calif. That could range from e-commerce sites to corporate intranets.
Also new is a feature called Transparent Persistence, which enables developers to access data from relational databases using Java, rather than having to switch to SQL programming. The feature is based on a proposed standard called Java Data Objects and allows faster run-time performance.
The newly added source code management feature, Forte TeamWare, provides distributed development teams with version control, problem management and tracking capabilities.
"Its a great product. Its probably the most flexible IDE around," said Alvin Thompson, a software engineer with Baltimore BioMedical Inc., of Baltimore, and a beta user of Forte 2.0.
Another beta user, Tim Ferrell, lead developer for McGee Corp., in Matthews, N.C., said he likes the time-saving feature of Transparent Persistence. "It decouples your access of a database and information in a database from most of the code you write, so if you make changes to the database, its very localized," Ferrell said.
Forte for Java 2.0 works with a variety of platforms, including Solaris, Linux and Windows. Sun also plans to come out with a third edition for enterprises when the 3.0 version of Forte is ready, expected by the middle of next year, company officials said.
Community Edition will be available for free download, while the Internet Edition will cost $495 per seat. Both editions will be released early next month.