The Communicator update adds support for the Java Development Kit version 1.1, which lets Communicator users access Java applications that use the JavaBeans component model, according to the company. The update is posted to Netscape's developer site.
The company has dubbed this family of programs "crossware."
Netscape's $495 development tool, which will ship later this year, will also allow developers to exploit other Internet technologies such as the CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) protocol and HTML in their applications.
The new preview release includes tools for building database applications more easily through a new set of wizards. The tool also allows JavaBeans and CORBA components to be imported directly to an internal Component Palette.
The company first announced its intention to release a visual development tool, code-named Palomar, earlier this year. Although Netscape has gradually expanded the capabilities of its Internet servers and browsers, it has remained weak in the tools area, promoting tools from other companies instead through a bundle called SuiteTools.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has made a concerted effort to become a player in Internet tools with products such as Visual J++ and Visual InterDev.