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Borland on the comeback trail

Borland spreading the word that the company is returning to its roots in building hardcore development tools, and is forging ahead with new products and a partnership with IBM intended to put it on solid ground.

Financial problems and "brain drain" lawsuits have overshadowed product development in recent months at software tool maker Borland International (BORL). But at the company's annual user meeting this week in Nashville, Tennessee, top management is spreading the word that the company is returning to its roots in building hardcore development tools, and is forging ahead with new products and a partnership with IBM intended to put it on solid ground.

Today, Borland announced an update to its Entera middleware, acquired last year, that will better integrate it with Borland's Delphi development tool and industry standard database connectivity tools. Entera 3.2 will also ship in a version for IBM's MVS/Open Edition mainframe operating system.

The company yesterday said it is set to ship JBuilder, a long-anticipated Java-based rapid application development tool that Borland needs to stay competitive with a growing pack of competitors, analysts say.

Despite being late to market with a Java tool, analysts give JBuilder high marks and claim that Borland's offering is well suited to corporate development and to server-side Java applications.

Borland also hopes to make rich friends by latching onto IBM and tapping its huge base of software development customers.

Borland announced a joint development deal with IBM to integrate JBuilder with IBM's upcoming object-oriented development framework, code-named the San Francisco project. The companies have not disclosed how the two products will be integrated, or when new products will ship.

Borland also cozied up to IBM's installed base of AS/400 users by launching a developer relations and marketing program intended to corral AS/400 developers.

The company has been rocked in recent years by a series of losses, management turnover, and employee defections. In May, Borland filed suit seeking a temporary injunction against Microsoft, claiming the software giant was systematically stealing Borland's development talent in an effort to put the company out of business. Microsoft denied the charges.