WebGain Gaining Ground

SAN MATEO (07/12/2000) - Through its recent string of product and company acquisitions, WebGain Inc. is building-up its Java toolbox and moving into the market for platform independent component-based development.

WebGain this week added another tool to its lineup when it bought Portland, Ore.-based Zat. WebGain, based in Santa Clara, Calif., plans to offer Zat's Spin software along with WebGain's Visual Cafe Java development tool. Spin is an application authoring system that enables Java developers to build e-business software by combining existing pieces of code into larger applications, "Our strategy is to acquire best-of-breed companies and products," said Joe Menard, CEO of WebGain. "We're about assembly and rolling best-of-breed technologies together."

The company also announced the shipment of WebGain Studio, a suite of the software products that WebGain acquired from Symantec Corp., Tendril Software, and The Object People, plus Dreamweaver, which it licensed from Macromedia Inc., in San Francisco.

Menard says that the company aims to compete with the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc., IBM Corp., and others in the Java development tools arena.

"There haven't been a lot of big Java IDE's since WebGain bought Visual Cafe from Symantec," said Tracy Corbo, senior analyst at Hurwitz Group, in Framingham, Mass. In fact, she says that IBM's Visual Age for Java is the only major stand-alone tool of note left on the market.

Corbo continued that WebGain is in a nice position to offer the platform and language-independent tool set that the Internet will demand. Moving forward, successful development tools will not be based on proprietary engines, according to Corbo. Instead, the programming model for distributed scalable Internet applications will require a move away from today's proprietary client/server tools, she said.

"Nobody's made the leap over to Internet development yet, but that's where development tools have to go," Corbo added.

WebGain was launched by Warburg Pincus Ventures and BEA Systems. The company purchased Visual Cafe from Symantec, in Cupertino, Calif.

Zat is the fourth purchase, of either a company or specific product, WebGain has made since the company started in January.

WebGain also bought Tendril Software to offer its Structure Builder software.

Along with BEA, WebGain purchased The Object People; it got its TopLink software and BEA took the consulting arm.

Market research company Gartner, in Stamford, Conn., projects that by 2003, 70 percent of new applications will be assembled by using pre-written commercial software components and application frameworks.

Tom Sullivan is an Infoworld senior writer.

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