Java coders get new version of Oracle tool

Oracle this week plans to launch a new release of its JDeveloper tool, featuring support for the latest Java and Web services standards as well as commonly used open-source technologies.

Analysts said many of the enhancements will bring the tool up to par with the most recent offerings from vendors such as IBM Corp. and Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Borland Software Corp., which currently ship the most popular tools.

"Their issue has been convincing people this would be a viable tool even if I happen to target somebody else's application server or database," said Thomas Murphy, an analyst at Meta Group Inc.

John Meyer, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc., said that although the new JDeveloper 9.0.3 release gives Oracle much of the standards support it needs, "it doesn't have the oomph yet that would propel it past the other major vendors' products." That added boost will come from the eventual tighter integration of frameworks that reduce the amount of code developers need to write, increasing their efficiency, he said.

User Sees Benefit

But James Holmes, an Atlanta-based independent consultant who has worked on Java projects for companies such as United Parcel Service Inc. and Royal Ahold NV, sees some benefit in the new release. He said he's looking forward to having built-in support for the open-source Struts Web application framework.

"It's a requisite for an IDE [integrated development environment] now," Holmes said. "If your IDE doesn't have it, it's lagging behind."

Other new features in JDeveloper 9.0.3 include support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.3 and Enterprise JavaBeans 2.0, and a My JDeveloper extension manager that lets developers personalize the IDE with features they frequently use. In addition, the new version will allow developers to visually create Web services with a UML Class Modeler.

JDeveloper 9.0.3 is available for free download from the Oracle Technology Network (OTN). The cost to users deploying applications is US$995.

Recently, Oracle also announced availability of the first version of its 9i Application Server TopLink object relational mapping tool for building Java applications with relational databases. Oracle acquired the tool in June from San Jose-based WebGain Inc., which sold off most of its technology this year.

TopLink is now available as a built-in feature of Oracle9i Application Server. Company officials also confirmed plans to support the tool for use with non-Oracle J2EE-compliant application servers, such as BEA Systems Inc.'s WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere.

A developer edition of TopLink can be downloaded for free from the OTN. The licensing cost is $7,000 per processor.

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