Tool Will Smooth Linux Development

Borland's long-awaited Kylix may boost the operating system's appeal in the corporate arena

Developers say they will have an easier time building Linux applications once Borland Software Corp. releases the long-awaited Kylix visual programming tool by the end of this month.

Closely modeled after Borlands Delphi tool for Windows, Kylix is designed to make it easier to write native Linux applications for the client and server sides. Beta customers said they believe the tool could open up Linux development to a wider audience.

"Its a great product," said Gent Hito, president and CEO of N Software Inc., in Research Triangle Park, N.C. "If you remember Visual Basic in 1990 and what it did to Windows in getting mainstream applications onto the desktop, this is what Kylix will do for Linux. This is going to make an explosion of applications in Linux."

Hitos company is a Borland partner that specializes in building Internet components for tools. "Within six months to a year, youre going to see the landscape change dramatically," Hito said. "Initially, I think youll see a lot of Linux distributors bundle more powerful, better applications. Then, in corporate IT, youll see Kylix making more and more inroads."

"When I first heard they were porting Delphi to Linux, I thought they were crazy," said Ray Lischner, another beta customer and president of Tempest Software Inc., in Corvallis, Ore. "Theyve done a really good job of abstracting out a component hierarchy and a [rapid application development] tool that works."

Less certain of Kylixs success than Hito, Lischner said he hopes the tool will lead to more desktop applications for Linux.

"What having Kylix on the desktop means is that its a lot easier to start writing these applications," Lischner said. "Id love to read my e-mail on Linux rather than on Windows."

Borland announced last week during Linux World in New York that the first two versions of Kylix for the Linux platform will ship this month. Kylix Desktop Developer Edition is focused mainly on building GUI applications, includes some database connectivity, and supports both proprietary and open-source development. That edition costs $999 per developer seat.

Kylix Server Developer Edition includes everything in the desktop version, plus a special focus on the ability to build dynamic applications for the Apache Web server. It also includes support for building applications for Oracle Corp.s 8i and IBMs DB2 databases. Pricing is $1,999 per developer seat.

Expected before midyear is the third edition, Kylix Open Edition, which will be sold for less than $100 with documentation or be available for free download, said Michael Swindell, Borlands director of product management, in Scotts Valley, Calif.

That edition will support only General Public License development and will be focused on client and desktop GUI applications.

Linux applications can be built faster and with lower development costs using Kylix, Swindell added.

Kylix also marks the first time that Borland is releasing a product for Linux first and Windows second. A Windows version is due at the beginning of next quarter.