JAVAONE - BEA gets partners for Workshop tools

BEA Systems Inc. Monday announced support from about a dozen software vendors for Weblogic Workshop, its Java development framework released in beta last month.

Borland Software Corp., Flamenco Networks, TogetherSoft Corp. and Palm Inc. are among the vendors that have pledged to make their products interoperate with Workshop, BEA announced at the JavaOne conference here. Known formerly by its code name, Cajun, the final version of Workshop is expected to ship midyear, BEA has said.

Seen by some as a Java equivalent to Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Basic tools, Workshop aims to let developers with minimal Java training take part in building complex Java-based enterprise applications. It does this in part by using visual controls that let developers invoke blocks of complex J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) code that have been prewritten by more experienced programmers. The overall goal is to develop applications more quickly.

Support from a tools vendor such as Borland means a developer will be able to create a basic application using Workshop and then export it to Borland's JBuilder tool, where an experienced J2EE developer can add more complex code. The application could then be imported back into Workshop for further coding, said Eric Stahl, a senior product manager at BEA, in San Jose, California.

"The strategy of driving this technology into all the tools vendors is under way," he said.

Although Workshop was largely well received at its unveiling last month, some users said they would be reluctant to use the tools until BEA gains approval for new Java standards that define how third-party products interoperate with it. Such standards aren't required for interoperability but could make it easier for third-party vendors to achieve, and at the same time help BEA drive momentum for its product. [See "BEA - Chief positions new tools as a radical shift," Feb. 26.]To that end, BEA also announced Monday that a Java Specification Request (JSR) for Workshop has been submitted to the Java Community Process, a multi-vendor group set up by Sun Microsystems Inc. that defines new Java standards.

JSR number 175 was submitted by Java creator Sun -- apparently on behalf of BEA -- and defines "a metadata facility for the Java programming language." If approved, the specification should make it easier for developers to "configure Java programs in a simple and uniform way in the Java code itself," BEA said in a statement. The JSR can be accessed via the JCP home page at http://www.jcp.org/.

Stahl declined to speculate on when the request will be approved. BEA expects at least three JSRs in all to be submitted for Workshop, covering various aspects of the product's functionality, he said. BEA hopes that rival application vendors will adhere to the standards, which would allow a customer to develop a Java application in Workshop and then run it on an application server from, for example, Oracle Corp.

The full list of vendors who announced plans Monday to support BEA Workshop follows:

-- Security, management and monitoring: Allidex Inc., Flamenco Networks, Grand Central Communications Inc. and Wily Technology Inc.

-- Web services and standards: Adobe Systems Inc., Altova Inc., Borland, eXcelon Corp., Infragistics Inc., Ipedo Inc., NeoCore Inc. and TogetherSoft Corp.

-- Mobile Web services: Palm Inc.

JavaOne continues through Friday. More information is at http://servlet.java.sun.com/javaone/sf2002/home/index.jsp

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