M7, N8, Snapbridge Release Development Tools

Three vendors announced new open-standard and open-source tools for building Java-based Web applications, model-based applications and XML applications.

Three new tools for building Java-based Web applications, model-based applications and XML applications are showing that open standards have taken root in the application development world.

The tools from M7 Corporation Inc., N8 Systems Inc. and Snapbridge Software Inc. aim to increase developers efficiency with features addressed to every skill level.

M7, of Cupertino, Calif., next month will announce NitroX, a Java-based Web development and debugging tool. It focuses on open-source and open-standard technologies such as Jakarta Struts, an Apache Foundation project; JSP (JavaServer Pages); and the Eclipse application development framework, said Mansour Safai, M7s co-founder and chief executive.

NitroX is targeted at the hard-core Java developer, the one working on complex applications that feature frameworks, layers, tag libraries and other technologies.

M7s NitroX helps developers through the complexity with a patent-pending technology called AppXRay, which maps and tracks all application layers and the interrelationships among them, the company said. AppXRay tracks Struts artifacts, variables, resources, classes and tags.

"AppXRay has the ability to do a complete scan of an application and then builds a rich database of the components in the application," Safai said.

Aashima Gupta, an IT architect with a San Francisco-based financial institution he asked not to be named, said the component database in NitroX enables him to "know about all the other layers and makes it very effective to program."

NitroX also features a JSP editor, Struts editor, consistency checker, and JSP and Struts debugger.

One thing that NitroX has but that M7 is not promoting is a lot of code generation capabilities. Safai said developers in the market M7 is targeting prefer to get their hands on the code and not use visual programming tools such as Microsoft Corp.s Visual Basic and Sun Microsystems Inc.s Project Rave.

NitroX, available this quarter, supports open platforms such as Tomcat and commercial application servers and tools such as BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic and IBMs WebSphere family. Next quarter, NitroX will support Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder Java IDE (integrated development environment), Safai said.

Meanwhile, N8, which launched its company and its new modeling product last week, addresses developers at the other end of the spectrum. The Berkeley, Calif., companys N8 Archetype software attacks the problem of writing system requirements by enabling business analysts to describe requirements in words and have them transformed into visual models. Archetype was developed from research about building object models from natural language, said N8 CEO David Hartford.

"We transform words into object models," Hartford said. "Were doing words to pictures that everybody understands. Its a way of teasing out what people want in the system."

From text descriptions of requirements, written in Microsofts Word, N8 Archetype automatically creates Unified Modeling Language use-case and activity diagrams, which developers can use to build systems. N8 Archetype uses Microsofts Visio as its visualization tool.

Separately, for XML developers, San Diego-based Snapbridge last week announced Snapbridge XStudio Pro 2.0, an IDE for developing and managing XML schemas, Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations style sheets and scripts.

The IDE integrates with Snapbridges FDX XML Server, also announced last week. Snapbridge FDX XML Server enables developers to deploy XML-based real-time information integration and management applications, said Benjamin Chen, chairman and chief technology officer of the company.

"Our product lets you go in and grab data from any relational database table and see everything in standard XML," Chen said. "And the XML server can store data as native XML."

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