Oracle to offer JDeveloper tool for free

Oracle at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco next week will announce intentions to offer its JDeveloper 10g Java developer tool for free.

The tool, which has been priced at US$995 per developer seat, will be available on June 28. Future releases will also be free.

Describing the tool as an SOA development environment, Oracle's Rick Schultz, vice president of Oracle Fusion middleware, said JDeveloper features an IDE, UML-based modeling, a BPEL (Business Process Execution Language) process flow designer, and Web-services capabilities.

"This is quite a mature product that we've had for a number of years," Schultz said. "What we're announcing is we're dropping the price tag on that product and making it available to the Java community for free."

Rather than being a response to the momentum of the open source Eclipse Java IDE, Oracle's move with JDeveloper is intended to increase JDeveloper adoption and drive interest in the company's Fusion middleware line, Schultz said. Fusion features application server, portal, identity management and integration software.

Several companies of late, including BEA Systems, Macromedia, and Borland, have endorsed the Eclipse IDE. But Schultz said offering JDeveloper for free is not being done to counter Eclipse.

"We're actually doing some work in the Eclipse Foundation as well, but as far as JDeveloper, we really don't even view it as a direct competitor in a way to Eclipse in a sense that JDeveloper is much more than an IDE," he said.

Oracle's JDeveloper announcement was viewed by one analyst as a way to compete with the SAP NetWeaver middleware platform rather than as an Eclipse countermeasure. "I think it has more to do with trying to get Fusion out there," said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis. "They're in a big-stakes battle with SAP."

"[JDeveloper is] a pretty first-rate Java IDE. I think they just see this as a big advantage and getting it out there for free is going to help sell their middleware and help them in the battle against NetWeaver," Willett said.

Oracle will continue selling professional services pertaining to JDeveloper. But those who already paid the licensing fees will not get refunds, Schultz said. "It's not a typical process," to offer refunds, he said. "That's the way software is licensed."

By offering the tool for free, the company is accelerating adoption and protecting the investment of those who already use JDeveloper, Schultz said.

Willett said the price of JDeveloper is low enough so that the lack of refunds will not be much of off an issue. If it was a $100,000 or $200,000 product, "I could see people being upset by it," said Willett.

Oracle at JavaOne also will announce that it intends to propose leading an Eclipse project to provide tooling based on JSF (JavaServer Faces), which is a specification for building user interfaces in Java applications. Also seen as a way to boost interest in Oracle's middleware, the project is intended to make it easier to build applications using JSF, Schultz said.

The JSF effort builds upon a previous Oracle initiative within Eclipse to develop tooling for EJB 3.0.

Oracle at the show also will announce it is joining the Apache MyFaces project as a core contributor. MyFaces is a free open source implementation of JSF.

In a presentation at JavaOne, Oracle's Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of development for the Oracle Application Server, will stress Oracle's support of JSF, EJB, and BPEL technologies for building an SOA, Schultz said.

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