RealTime IT News

IBM Eclipses Desktop

IBM took the wraps off Java-based software development tool enhancements to kick off its Rational Software Development Users Conference this week in Texas.

The company unleashed a pile of code to enhance several of its key software initiatives, which it will dole out throughout the year. The intitiatives will support IBM's efforts to integrate the open source Eclipse Project and the Eclipse IDE throughout its code base.

"Eclipse allows us to build our tools much more quickly, bring them to market more quickly, but also provides much deeper integration," said Mike Devlin, IBM Rational software general manager, at a press conference. "We're extending that integration forward in the lifecycle into business modeling and back into the operations and test side."

ISVs are the primary recipients for the improvements, allowing everyone from experienced coders to novice programmers to build business applications faster. For IBM, it expands adoption of its middleware environment to more potential customers.

Support on the IBM Software Development Platform includes: JavaServerFaces (JSF); visual refactoring for automatic changes throughout the application; UML 2.0 modeling for improved communication among business, operations and development teams on a project; Service Data Objects (SDO) support to link applications to databases; and C/C++ application development support.

IBM announced four additions to its Lotus Workplace platform, a J2EE-based rich-client programming framework for building Web services on mobile devices.

Workplace Builder and Designer are intended for inexperienced J2EE programmers and "line-of-business managers," a term coined by IBM officials.

Developers using Workplace Builder can assemble an application from the ground up, using building blocks of components, and recycle the code to use in other programs. Builder will be released as part of Workplace 2.0 this fall and resembles the Visual Basic style of programming.

The Workplace API Toolkit is a set of code samples used to integrate applications in a Web services environment on any sort of device, from the desktop to the PDA . Downloads will be available in the third quarter of this year, with a client toolkit making an appearance toward the end of the year.

Rounding out the Workplace enhancements is WebSphere Studio Device Developer 5.7, which extends Workplace applications from mobile devices onto desktops and workstations. A key enhancement is the version's support for applications running on devices that aren't always connected to the Internet. This will become generally available at the end of the month.

The more advanced Designer, due out in beta later this year, is used for building stand-alone apps. It also sports a visual scripting tool and is easier to use than IBM's WebSphere Studio, according to Big Blue officials.

IBM is also devoting an area of its developerWorks Web site for Rational programmers, called "The Rational Zone." The site will feature 30 online forums and about 800 "how-to" articles and Web-based tutorials for developers working their way through a project.

"IBM remains committed to providing its developer ecosystem with the support and resources required to help them be successful, including how to use Rational products within the Software Development Platform to successfully build, integrate, extend, modernize and deploy software," said Gina Poole, IBM vice president of developer marketing and Web communities, in a statement.

Other developer enhancements announced Monday at the conference include:

  • Support for Linux on the IBM Software Development Platform.
  • Support for Eclipse 3.0 with extensions to integrate software change and configuration and requirements tools.
  • Alphaworks has three applications available for download: integration tools for migration from .NET WinForms to Eclipse; the IBM Reflexive UI Builder to test GUI functionality or use as a GUI renderer ; and OptimalGrid, a tool for developers working on optimizing grid networking applications or online gaming projects.
  • The IBM Rational Functional Tester Extension for terminal-based applications lets developers use the same tool to test Java-, client/server- and zSeries/iSeries-based applications.