Borland eyes agile development with upgraded tools

Looking to make life easier for developers, Borland Software Corp. on Tuesday plans to release an upgrade of its JBuilder Java visual application development environment, with a focus on improving productivity. The company also is announcing an upgraded version of its Optimizeit Suite 5 performance management tool for developers.

The overarching intent of JBuilder 8 is to make developers more productive with fewer resources, according to the company. To that end, JBuilder 8 features a new framework based on the Jakarta Struts open-source framework, Borland officials said. Also highlighted in Version 8 are debugging improvements, including hot spot debugging, for modifying code while debugging. Collaboration is enhanced as well.

The upgrades also help developers achieve what Borland officials referred to as "agile development."

"Agile development is a rapid development process focused on quick iteration of development and integration, and it's really finding a home in the Java community because Java developers are often asked to develop things very quickly and on a shoestring budget," said Bill Pataky, director of product management and marketing for Borland, in Scotts Valley, Calif.

New to JBuilder are features supporting the "agile development" rapid development concept. Agile development features include unit testing of EJBs (Enterprise Java Beans) and supporting the J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) model. Unit testing enables testing of small sections of code.

"This is a major release of new technology and we're really trying to address a pain point that the industry is having right now," Pataky said. "Folks are really struggling to do more with less time."

"The goal here is JBuilder making developers more productive, making their tasks easier," Pataky said.

An analyst said Borland also is accommodating less-skilled developers with JBuilder 8.

"What we're finding right now is the vast majority of the Java developers entering the market today [have limited skills]," said Mark Driver, research director and analyst at Gartner, in Minneapolis. Tools will have to be dumbed-down "because developers just don't have the skills," Driver said.

Tools have to take on the burden of productivity through support of visual frameworks and wizards, Driver said.

Use of the Jakarta Struts framework enables developers to build Web applications quickly, Borland's Pataki said.

"This is really going to make development much easier for our customers to create their JSPs [Java Server Pages]," added Tony de la Lama, vice president and general manager of Borland's Java business unit.

Debugging improvements in addition to hot-swap debugging include the ability to insert diagnostics and debugging of other languages that comply with JSR 45, which is a new Java standard for debugging.

"This is a major step forward in terms of debugging higher-level applications such as Java Server Pages," Pataky said.

Collaboration is being improved to make it easier for groups to work on projects. Included are additional features for code management and integration of ClearCase and CVS (concurrent version control) source code management tools. Integration features will help organizations manage large projects, according to Borland.

Usability has been improved to enable developers to write code in their own individual styles.

Version 8, which ships in late-November, also adds support for the latest application servers from Borland, BEA, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems. Also supported are the IBM AIX and Hewlett-Packard HP-UX platforms.

JBuilder 8 supports Web services standards, the company said.

JBuilder is the industry-leading Java development tool, according to Driver. The addition of TogetherSoft design and modeling technology, via Borland's US$185 million acquisition of the company last week, provides a complement to Borland's development environment, Driver said.

Borland's Optimizeit Suite 5 performance management tool for Java developers features automatic memory leak detection, via its Automatic Memory Leak Detector feature.

"Memory leaks are probably the most difficult performance problems to track down and this is a tool that lets developers of any skill level have insight into these problems and where they're occurring," Pataky said. "This is a real breakthrough."

Optimizeit also has been integrated with JBuilder so that both appear as a single application to developers. Other highlights include object size display, to understand memory usage, and visual call graph, to determine which code is taking up the most time.

Optimizeit 5 also is due at the end of the month.

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