Three departments within Sun Microsystems Inc. are working together to spice up life for developers.
The Santa Clara, Calif., companys PS (Professional Services), tools and labs groups are nearing completion of a jointly developed effort called the Sun Appliance for Live Software Analysis, or SALSA, project.
But SALSA is not a hardware “appliance”; rather, it is a software tool that will help Sun PS architects extract, analyze and refactor, or edit, Java code designs and architectures using two-dimensional and three-dimensional visualizations.
SALSA is built on top of a technology from Java creator James Goslings Sun Labs called Jackpot, which automates software analysis. The SALSA team extended Jackpot to produce design and architectural software characteristics known as “design analysis facts,” said John Crupi, a Sun distinguished engineer and chief architect at Sun PS.
With more vendors seeking to address the application development life cycle, particularly Microsoft Corp. with its new Visual Studio Team System, Suns timing for SALSA should be no surprise. But unlike its rivals, SALSA takes the application development life cycle a step further with a service that checks for design and architectural problems on the fly.
Sun is planning to market SALSA initially as a service that would sit on a box and run daily to monitor systems, which could also be monitored remotely by Sun PS architects.
Crupi told eWEEK that SALSA should be available within three to six months.
SALSA will help Sun PS when it is called in to assess the quality of customers code design and architecture, a time-consuming and expensive process, Crupi said.
Sun officials estimate that to do such an assessment, an architect performs about 90 percent of the work manually, with only about 10 percent handled by a tool. With SALSA, the tool does some 70 percent of the work, and the architect does only 30 percent.
“We think we can rapidly increase the software quality” and move design and architectural analysis closer to the development cycle, Crupi said.
Some enterprise IT designers said SALSA is the way to go. “I am championing such effort with our organization,” said Balaji Anna, a software architect with The World Bank Group, in Washington, working on assignment from Satyam Computer Services Ltd.
“For any organization … that deals with offshore, SALSA will be an excellent fit. One of the fundamental challenges the architects of such organizations are faced with is, How do we ensure the block diagrams we put in at the design stage have actually been followed or implemented in the code delivered?”
Crupi said that following the initial service business model Sun is considering, SALSA “eventually will be [delivered] in terms of partnerships with other partners and customers” that have enough of the knowledge base to actually start building a knowledge base themselves. “Maybe they buy the system themselves in the future,” he said.
Another feature of SALSA is a new Sun technology known as PQL (Pattern Query Language), or “Pickle,” which helps developers write queries that look for patterns, Crupi said.
“We look at documentation, we interview developers, we talk to architects and then eventually were deep into the code trying to create a mental visualization of what the design is of the system,” Crupi said.
“Theres a lot of problems to that in that it just takes a hell of a lot of time to get down to the point where you understand what the system is doing.”