Borland Releases Next-Generation JBuilder

Borland Tuesday unveiled a new version of its IDE for Java, dubbed JBuilder X, which offers more than 100 new and enhanced features.

Borland Software Corp. Tuesday announced a new version of its integrated development environment (IDE) for Java, called JBuilder X, offering more than 100 new and enhanced features, the company said.

Bill Pataky, director of product management for Java solutions at Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Borland, said JBuilder X, which marks the tenth version of the companys market-leading Java IDE, is the most significant upgrade to the product since JBuilder 6.

"With JBuilder 6 we introduced a visual designer for EJBs [Enterprise JavaBeans]," Pataky said. "With JBuilder X were doing the same for Web services and Web development."

New features include a visual designer for the open-source Apache Struts framework for building Web applications, and support for the open-source JBoss application server.

"We have a visual designer for Struts applications that has a drag-and drop-approach," Pataky said. "We have a similar approach to Web services."

In addition, Borland has included a visual deployment descriptor editor, which helps developers manage the differences between the leading Java application servers, such as BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic, IBM Corp.s WebSphere, Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sun ONE, Oracle Corp.s Oracle9i, Sybase Inc.s EAServer and JBoss.

"On one hand, the JBuilder announcement is big, on the other hand what can really be big in an IDE," said Thomas Murphy, senior program director of research services at the META Group Inc., Stamford, Conn. He pointed to three key elements in the announcement: the license change for JBuilder Foundation edition, integration with Borlands application lifecycle-management strategy, and the companys focus on its core audience with enhancements.

"The Borland tools environment has always been strong and many people are familiar with the environment and its style. And I think this provides a solid, standards-based IDE that other companies can either utilize as a core for their own products and to build plug-ins for Borlands products," Murphy said.

According to Pataky, JBuilder X can be extended through Borlands OpenTools APIs, and the product supports more than 80 third-party components and plug-ins.

In addition, the new version features enhanced refactoring support, code folding to view multiple sections of code, project-wide to-do lists and bookmarks, and a new user interface, Borland officials said.

"They are also staying focused on their core audience: professional developers and not trying to go after Web page designers like many of the other environments out there," Murphy said. "I believe this is good because that audience is going to continue being dominated by Microsoft [Corp.] and Macromedia [Inc]. Thus a lot of the improvements to the environment are what developers need."

Pataky struck a similar chord. "One thing were not doing here is going out with a statement saying OK, if youre not a Java developer were going to make you one. Were focusing on the traditional Java developer."

Mansour Safai, chief executive of M7 Corp., a Cupertino, Calif., provider of a suite of application assembly tools, said his companys surveys show JBuilder "really suffering" against the IBM-sponsored Eclipse open-source development framework and IBMs own WebSphere Studio Application Developer IDE. "The combination of these IDEs represent a bigger share of the market than JBuilder at this point," Safai said. "Borland has been a decent competitor after several years and needs to innovate to climb back on top."

Indeed Safai said Borland needs to go a step further. "I also have to say that they seem to be missing the whole new wave of product like M7 and BEA WorkShop," he said. "I believe this could cost them dearly as there needs to be a much more integrated effort to solve the problem of building Web applications on top of an infrastructure stack. Traditional IDEs tend to primarily or only concentrate on Java coding. The problem is a lot wider than what a Java IDE solves."

Borland will deliver three versions of JBuilder X: JBuilder Foundation, which allows for commercial use and redistribution; JBuilder Developer and JBuilder Enterprise.

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