Rational tool doesn't play favorites

Rational Software introduces a new software development tool that works with products from Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

Rational Software on Tuesday introduced a new software development tool that is compatible with software from Microsoft, IBM and Sun Microsystems.

The software company, which has worked mostly with Microsoft in the past, announced Tuesday that its new XDE Professional v2002 product will work with Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net development tools and IBM's rival WebSphere Studio development tools. The XDE, or extended development environment product, has also been designed to support IBM's Eclipse IDE, software based on Sun's Java technology. The new product helps developers see the overall design of a software development project.

"We saw those two platforms as the pre-eminent development platforms, but that's not to say we won't support others in the future," said a company representative.

Rational said the product is designed to eliminate the "gap between design and development" in the software building process. As software design becomes more complex, Rational's new software will help developers overcome a "pain point," Goldman Sachs analyst Thomas Berquist wrote in a Tuesday research note.

Developers can start working directly with IBM or Microsoft technology and make a smooth transition to Rational's tools as their development work becomes increasingly complex. Rational supports tools to help developers in the code-writing process.

Companies like BEA Systems, IBM, Microsoft and Sun have become increasingly interested in software development technology as more devices, such as PDAs (personal digital assistants) and phones, and automobiles become connected to networks, making the process more complex.

Microsoft, IBM and Sun are also embarking on new product plans to embrace a technology called Web services, which may help companies build new systems, but will require an investment in new development tools.

A single copy of either the XDE Professional v2002 Java Platform Edition or Microsoft.Net Edition costs $2,995. XDE Professional Plus, which combines the features of Java and .Net editions, costs $4,195.

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