IBM to update VisualAge for Java

IBM next week will use the annual Java One show as a platform for launching its next barrage of Java-laced enterprise tools and strategies intended to help users better build and deploy e-business applications.

At the centre of the announcements will be a beta version of VisualAge for Java, Professional Edition, Version 3.0. The forthcoming version features links for faster access to back-end platforms such as MQSeries and DB2, including the ability to use, leverage, and build stored procedures in DB2.

Version 3.0, due in the fourth quarter, also features support for building Java-based applications in Sun's Solaris, and a remote debugging feature that allow developers to debug programs residing on a remote platform such as its WebSphere server.

"What we are trying to do through these announcements is deliver a set of run times for DB2, MQSeries, and WebSphere and to integrate our tools with those run times. We hope to expand the abilities of these Web-based environments to more approximate the enterprise,'' said Joe Damassa, vice president of application development marketing for IBM's Software Solutions group.

IBM next week will also show off what company officials describe as technical previews of versions of VisualAge for Java for Linux and Java2 environments. Company officials said they believe the version for Linux will be the first visual programming environment shown off for the increasingly popular Linux platform.

The Java for Linux suite will allow developers to build, test, and deploy Java applets, applications, and JavaBean components and servlets on Linux.

IBM was inspired to come up with the Linux version of VisualAge when one of its developers presented the company with a petition, signed by 1,000 developers, demanding such a version.

"[The petition] proved to be a good case study for us in how this whole Linux crowd operates," Damassa said. "So we decided to get early views of the technology out there on the Web and start getting feedback on which features to focus on and which ones aren't that important."

Also next week the company will show off, as expected, a beta version of Version 1.4 of its San Francisco frameworks, the finished version of which is expected to be available by the end of July. Version 1.4 is a portfolio of enterprise-oriented application business components, and describes a migration path to enable San Francisco components for Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) servers and run times.

IBM officials said migration tools and wizards will be forthcoming to help automate conversion of existing San Francisco applications to the EJB environments. The components had been designed in a non-Java format and have been converted during past months through a long and arduous process, according to the officials.

The new version features several JavaBeans components that make it easier for developers to build client-based applications, has significantly improved performance, and provides support for Microsoft's SQL Server 7.0.

Expected to be available June 25, the beta release of 1.4 is the first major step to converting the components to an EJB environment.

IBM will also takes the wraps off a beta version of WebSphere Studio 3.0, available now online, that features an integrated design tool called Visual Page Designer, for creating Visual Java server pages that support both HTML and Dynamic HTML.

Sun last week announced the JavaServer Pages specification, part of the Java2, Enterprise Edition, set of 15 specifications due for formal arrival in December. The next WebSphere Studio, which includes VisualAge for Java, Professional Edition, integrates remote debugging of Java server pages and other server-side logic into Web site design, which is an industry first, IBM claims.

Another new capability, meant to compliment its Team Connection Repository, is its ability to allow small teams of programmers to work together on projects and to more efficiently manage reusable files, links, and folders, according to Damassa. An upgraded Workbench sports common project views, aiding in that effort, IBM said.

"This is a lower-end file based team environment for teams of 10 to 15 people unlike Team Connection which is for much larger groups,'' Damassa said.

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