IBM automates Web development

IBM Corp. on Thursday rolled out a series of tools that reportedly relieve programmers from some of the menial work associated with Web development, freeing them to focus on building, deploying, and testing applications and Web sites in an on-demand fashion.

The tools take away from programmers the responsibility of having to update individual pages, change links within Web sites, and debug errors in the code by automating these functions, company officials said. Programmers can now automatically update information across multiple sites, simultaneously move groups of links to another part of the site, and debug applications including Visual Basic and Java Script code running in the browser.

"We find that companies developing software are realizing now that doing so more predictably and efficiently translates to a competitive advantage. But a development platform for creating On Demand solutions itself needs to be On Demand environment with virtualization and autonomic capabilities. I think this is what this helps accomplish," said Bernie Spang, IBM's Director of WebSphere Studio in Somers, N.Y.

Among the tools, which will be included in WebSphere 5.1, is a new Web site designer with templates that allow developers to apply updates to multiple pages on a Web site at the same time so they do not have to do so individually. Version 5.1 also enables developers to access all the pages from one section of a site and move them to another and automatically update the navigation process.

"The update to page designer sets the foundation for another update that comes later this year that adds components that are going to be based on the new Java Server Faces spec now under development now in the Java Community Process. This update is significant because it gives us the ability to build the intelligence into the tools, so you can drag and drop a control like a data table and set the attribute to point to the database," Spang said.

The new tools also provide the ability to predict problems that could cause bottlenecks for applications once they are deployed to the network, Spang said. WebSphere Studio is capable of generating a report that takes away any guesswork involved in gauging how much capacity is needed.

Offering one example, company officials said a developer building a banking application can accurately predict how big an application server needs to be without having to run a number of different test scenarios.

IBM officials claim the tools are the first from a major player to ascribe to the most recent Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) standards, namely the WS-I Basic Profile 1.0. This latest standard lays down guidelines for how core Web services applications should be used together to create Web services that are interoperable.

This enables WebSphere Studio to generate messages when a Web service is not consistent with a profile. Developers can then use wizards to generate interoperable Web services code and verify whether Web services are consistent with a profile, a company spokesman said.

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