Rational Extends WebSphere Tool Lines

IBM's Rational Software division unveils new versions of WebSphere Studio Application Developer and WebSphere Studio Site Developer that feature ease-of-use capabilities.

IBM last week announced new versions of its Java development tools and its Rational Suite of application life-cycle tools.

IBMs Rational Software division, based in Lexington, Mass., unveiled new versions of WebSphere Studio Application Developer and WebSphere Studio Site Developer that feature ease-of-use capabilities rivaling those of Microsoft Corp. tools, BEA Systems Inc.s WebLogic Workshop and Sun Microsystems Inc.s upcoming Java Studio Creator, also known as "Project Rave," officials said.

"This set of functionality is around making Java development easier," said Eric Naiburg, group market manager of desktop products at Rational, of the new features in WebSphere Studio Application Developer 5.1.2 and WebSphere Studio Site Developer 5.1.2.

Among the new functionality in the products is support for JSF (JavaServer Faces), which simplifies the development of rich user interfaces; Service Data Objects, a proposed data access standard jointly developed by IBM and BEA; Enterprise Generation Language, a 4GL (fourth-generation language) for procedural programmers moving to object-oriented development environments such as 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, Enterprise Edition]," said Lee Nackman, vice president of desktop development tools and chief technology officer at Rational. "The Java world has a standard to be used for easily building rich user interfaces—JSF, which we support."

Scott McIntosh, technical director at ICF Consulting Group Inc., in Fairfax, Va., said the JSF technology helps ease development by separating the GUI portions of applications from the back-end business logic. "This tool really is much more akin to what you would see in Visual Studio, for Visual Basic programmers," McIntosh said. "This is a good step toward bringing some of that [VB-like] power to the Java world."

Nackman agreed, saying the WebSphere Studio Application Developer and WebSphere Studio Site Developer tools have features similar "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.

In an interview, Steve Mills, IBMs senior vice president and group executive in charge of IBM software, said he sees software development as key to letting a company operate in an on-demand environment.

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