Rational Looks Ahead

Outlines its new directions, defines standards for RAS.

IBMs Rational division delivered an update on its integration into IBM as well as some new directions at its annual user conference last week in Orlando, Fla.

One new direction is a RAS that Rational is contributing to the Object Management Group.

Reusable Asset Specification defines standards for the specification, cataloging and reuse of software assets. Although led by Rational, the standard is supported by a group of companies that make up the RAS Consortium. Other RAS backers include Microsoft Corp., ComponentSource, Flashline Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc.

In an interview with eWEEK, Grady Booch, an IBM Fellow and Rationals chief scientist, said, "Weve been pioneering a thing called the Reusable Asset Specification, which will also become an OMG standard, under the idea that there are many assets beyond just code things that can be expressed in UML [Unified Modeling Language] that are reusable.

"So if you tie together your developer platform with a modeling tool, the next thing thats cool to do is to start injecting those patterns in an automated way, to apply some degree of tooling to the problem of identifying patterns and pushing those patterns into your system."

In another interview with eWEEK, IBM Rational General Manager Mike Devlin issued a report card on what he called the "six-month anniversary" of Rational being under IBMs corporate umbrella.

Devlin said the acquisition has been going well—even exceeding expectations in some areas. For instance, "our attrition rate is not any different than it was when we were an independent company," Devlin said.

The Rational division has already begun to integrate its products and contribute to IBMs bottom line, as well as work with IBMs Global Services and research divisions to turn out services and transition research into new products, Devlin said.

The company continues its asset-based development strategy and delivered IBM Rational Suite 2003 in June.

Devlin said Rational has continued its efforts to further support Microsofts .Net platform as well as the Java-based Eclipse platform. Rational is developing a common architecture based on the IBM-sponsored Eclipse open-source application development framework. "This will be a major focus of our engineering team for the next 18 to 24 months," Devlin said.

In addition, Rational is working on delivering enhanced testing tools and completing the integration of its tooling technology with WebSphere and WebSphere Business Integration, Devlin said.

Booch said Rational has integrated elements of its Rose and Extended Development, or XDE, tools into Eclipse and WebSphere Application Studio.

"In the current incarnation of what we have in our tooling with WebSphere, we have a patterns engine that allows us to take those patterns ... and then push those into your system," Booch said. "There was some work in UML 2.x to improve the semantics of patterns so we could capture more interesting patterns and push them into our system."

Booch said Rationals focus is to not just feature modeling in the integrated development environment but also to tie it together with the whole spectrum of tools in the development space.