Sun, IBM Solidify Tools Rift

The gulf between two Java programming language integrated development
environments (IDEs) grew wider Wednesday when IBM and Sun Microsystems released enhancements for their respective platforms.

The release signals that both companies could be willing to forgo a unified Java developer tools platform and instead concentrate on their respective IDEs: Sun’s
NetBeans and IBM’s Eclipse.

An attempt by both parties to combine the two
platforms in December 2003 stalled when
officials on both sides couldn’t agree on the level of support NetBeans
would receive in the Eclipse platform.

Since December, Sun has been beta testing its Java Studio Creator with
approximately 100 developers and plans to release a public “Early Access”
release this spring.

The platform, which used to fall under the
code name “Project Rave,” is a Java-based tool providing drag-and-drop user
interfaces, event-based coding models, and simplified access to databases
and Web services to speed up the coding process.

Studio Creator is built upon the NetBeans 3.5 IDE and will run on the
Solaris, Windows and Linux operating systems when it becomes generally
available this summer.

Phase Two of the program, announced Wednesday, takes the feedback generated
in Phase One (beta testing) and gives Sun officials the opportunity to clean
up their code.

“By the release of the Early Access code, we expect a very stable code base
for developers to test drive,” said Rich Green, Sun developer platforms
group vice president, in a statement.

Meanwhile, IBM announced Wednesday eight new PowerPack kits that help
developers evaluate products on the IBM Software Development Platform, which
uses the Eclipse IDE. The platform, like Sun’s Studio Creator, gives
programmers tools to speed up the development process.

The PowerPacks are divided by a specific audience: analyst, architect, IT
manager, tester and project manager. With them, IBM officials
say development teams can automate and integrate business processes between
customers, suppliers and partners.

The Armonk, N.Y.-based company also expanded its On Demand Resource Center
to include more support for developers in their software development
program. Online training, forums and downloads are now available for
registered users.

To date, Eclipse has enjoyed more popularity among developers than Sun’s
comparable IDE. While NetBeans has been downloaded 2.1 million times since
its release last June, Eclipse has been downloaded 18 million times since
its inception in 2001.

Eclipse, founded through a $40 million
software donation
by IBM and made up of 49 enterprise members, has also
gained more acceptance from developers, who view the Eclipse 2.1.2 IDE as a
more stable platform.

Sun contends the growing rift between Eclipse and NetBeans is hurting the
Java community, to the benefit of Microsoft and its .NET platform using
C-based languages and Visual Basic.

James Gosling, Sun developer platform CTO, recently
interoperability between application servers has been hampered
because of competing IDEs, namely Eclipse.

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