LEXINGTON, Mass.—IBM announced Wednesday new programs to support adoption of a unified application development platform.
That platform, to be known as the IBM Software Development Platform, will revolve around the companys Rational Software division. IBM completed the acquisition of the application development tools vendor in February and has since been working to integrate Rationals application development capabilities with its existing application development tools, such as WebSphere Studio.
IBM plans to ramp up its developer outreach efforts with more technical briefings and conferences as well as a revamped developWorks Web site. More developer sessions have been added to the Lotusphere 2004 conference in Orlando, Fla., in January, and the developerWorks Live technical conference has been merged with the Rational user conference, which will take place in Grapevine, Texas, in July.
“Were putting together our resources across the entire company into a single development platform that fully embraces open standards,” Buell Duncan, general manager of IBM Developer Relations, said at the IBM Developer Media Day event at Rationals office here. “We want to integrate our different offerings over time.”
Rational will be the center of those efforts, Duncan said.
“We want to bring together disparate efforts across the company to respond to the needs of our developers,” he said.
Though officials stopped short of saying existing IBM development tools in other divisions of the company, such as WebSphere, Tivoli and Lotus, will be shifted to Rational, Duncan said IBM plans to give developers a “single point of contact.”
“This is very much what the market is asking for,” he said.
Much of the IBM effort centers around the Eclipse open-source development environment, which all development tools will support.
John Pritchard, software architect at Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, agreed. Pritchards group, which develops command-and-control systems for the defense industry, uses development tools from Rational as well as WebSphere Studio.
“One area theyre tackling thats a big issue for us is using Eclipse as the standard development environment,” said Pritchard, whos based in Colorado Springs, Colo. “That should minimize the number of tools our developers have to get trained on.”
Eclipse makes it easier to recruit at college campuses too, Pritchard said.
“Our young engineers know Eclipse, theyre learning it in college,” he said.
Mike Devlin, general manager of the Rational division, said future initiatives at IBM-Rational will focus on integrating testing tools with design tools so that software testing can happen at any stage of the development process, rather than just the end of the process.
“Too frequently, testing occurs only at the end of the development life cycle,” said Devlin. “Theres a very immature attitude toward quality and testing throughout the industry.”
Other initiatives under way include support for change management processes across the enterprise, support for best practices within the development process framework, and support for more componentization and customization, Devlin said.
Devlin said Rational has made “considerable progress” in integrating with the rest of IBMs software development products. WebSphere was the first priority and Tivoli is the second, he said.
IBM Fellow Grady Booch said integration of Rational tools with other IBM tools would “reduce complexities and improve efficiencies.”
“One of the great drivers to cost is complexity,” Booch said.
Booch outlined future development initiatives at IBM-Rational, which include support for collaborative tools for distributed application development, the coding of software development patterns on top of the development platform, and still further out, support for “aspect-oriented programming,” which incorporates things like logging, system selection and asset indexing into programming.