IBM Upgrades Java Tools

IBM's Rational Software group rolls out new versions of its Java development and application lifecycle 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).

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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.

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