BEA to reveal 'Cajun' Web services framework

In a bid to attract developers, BEA Systems Inc. at its BEA eWorld show in February will detail a new framework for building Web services, called Cajun, using technology that is coming out of its acquisition of Crossgain Corp., a company official confirmed.

Also at the show, BEA will unveil an enhanced version of its developer Web site that some say will rival MSDN (Microsoft's Developer Network).

Since BEA bought Crossgain in July, both companies have been extremely quiet about their exact plans for using Crossgain technology. Even before the acquisition, in fact, Crossgain kept the technology it was developing a closely guarded secret.

But the forthcoming framework, code-named Cajun, is based on technology that BEA acquired when it scooped up Crossgain, and some of the Crossgain folks will be the major driving forces behind BEA's developer push, said Byron Sebastain, senior director for product management for BEAs framework.

Cajun, when it becomes available in April, will be a framework for building Web services that includes a toolset and a runtime, Sebastain said. Part of Cajun is a tool that provides a visual way of building Web services while at the same time letting developers write Java code.

Rikki Kirzner, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Mountain View, Calif., said that Java developers are looking for a more visual approach.

"I'd be real surprised if it doesn't happen. Visual is already better for building applications," Kirzner said.

BEA's Sebastain continued that Cajun is a fundamental piece of BEA's Web services architecture that enables the integration of various departments within an organization.

"Web services changes integration within the enterprise, as well as with outside partners," Sebastain said.

He added that Cajun is designed for developers to build Web services in Java, on top of BEA's own WebLogic application server, and that developers will be able to use third-party tools with the framework, such as those from Borland and WebGain.

"We designed the architecture so other tools can be used with it," Sebastian said.

Another facet of BEA's push to attract developers is an updated version of its developer portal, which enables developers to create their own personalized portals, and will serve as the foundation of a BEA developer community. One source said it will resemble MSDN, and that BEA is planning to christen the site A BEA spokeswoman said the name has not yet been disclosed.

"One of the things that has been lacking in the Java space is developer support," said Sam Patterson, CEO of ComponentSource Inc., a Kennesaw, Ga.-based broker of pre-existing Java and Windows-based application components.

Patterson added that Microsoft Corp. has successfully built a developer network and offers its programmers support which, in turn, leads to greater use of the Microsoft platform. "Developer support is very important for Java, it eases development," Patterson said.

Patterson continued that the framework and developer support are ways for BEA to attract more developers. "It's specifically about getting developers who build with J2EE and EJBs to work on WebLogic," Patterson added.

IDC's Kirzner said that the full developer network around BEA and its products will help lure developers to the BEA platform.

"Would BEA like to get vendor lock-in? Sure. Will they be able to do that? It's not very likely," Kirzner said.

BEA's Sebastain said that BEA's big push to attract developers is being driven by Tod Neilsen, and Adam Bosworth, as well as some of the other folks who came from Crossgain. Before founding Crossgain, Neilsen and Bosworth were instrumental in creating Microsoft's developer community.

Patterson added that based on their experience at Microsoft Neilsen and Bosworth are formidable competitors. 'These guys built the Microsoft developer tools and programs, and they're going to do it again at BEA," Patterson said.

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