Inprise Corp. will announce that its Borland Delphi and CBuilder tools will soon support Linux, enabling developers familiar with the tools to build native Linux applications, and for Windows applications built with them to be ported to Linux relatively easily.
The arrival in mid-2000 of the Linux versions of Delphi and CBuilder will follow the arrival in the first quarter of Borland JBuilder for Linux, a Java development tool.
To seed interest in the Java-on-Linux movement, Inprise this week will provide a free, downloadable preview of the JBuilder just-in-time compiler for Linux that supports many Java 2 Enterprise Edition specifications.
The full embrace of Linux by Inprise across its tools and middleware offerings shows a strategic shift based on the assumption that Linux will ultimately be a major enterprise platform.
Linux will also grow quickly as a preferred workstation development platform, Inprise officials said.
"We intend to set the pace and standard for professional Linux development," said Michael Swindell, group product manager for Linux at Inprise, in Scotts Valley, California. "There are a lot of free tools, and not many are oriented to application development. By delivering a rapid application development environment, we allow professional developers to proliferate (applications) on Linux."
Code-named Kylix, the Borland Linux tools are being developed in tandem with the next version of Windows-based Delphi and CBuilder tools. Kylix will leverage the functions within those integrated-development environments and share the visual component library within their frameworks.
"When Kylix is released, virtually overnight there will be hundreds of thousands of applications available on the Linux platform, and many will be ports from Windows," Swindell said. "It makes a lot more sense for ISVs and vendors that build to Windows and want to also offer Linux versions."
Kylix will support the major Linux brands, including Red Hat, as well as the major databases, Swindell said. It will also include Inprise's Midas multitier architecture elements, allowing for a broader role for Linux as an operating system for n-tier systems.
"Borland has been doing tools for years, and for them to jump into the Linux space is a big win for Linux on the development side," said Manu Kumar, president of SneakerLabs, an independent software vendor in Pittsburgh.
Inprise, which has suffered from stagnant revenue growth in key areas, may be gambling heavily on Linux as an alternative to its Windows-based business. The results of that bet depend on the acceptance of Linux, but the availability of strong development tools should help Linux's adoption.
"It's too soon to tell. Linux represents much of the same entry-level value that Windows NT held for people. It's the easy way to deploy a simple department-level app," said Eric Brown, an analyst at Forrester Research, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Inprise Corp., in Scotts Valley, California, is at www.inprise.com/.