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Oracle launches tool revamp

Oracle makes the first move to reorganize its admittedly confusing development tool lineup with the introduction of Web Developer Suite, a set of Web and client-server tools.

Oracle (ORCL) today made the first move to reorganize its admittedly confusing development tool lineup.

The company announced Web Developer Suite, a new bundle comprised of existing tools specifically targeted at building applications complying with Oracle's Network Computing Architecture (NCA), a software blueprint for constructing Web applications.

"We know that our pricing and packaging have been a little confusing," said Niall Wall, senior product marketing manager at Oracle. "We looked at competitive landscape and have come up with a single [package] with simplified pricing."

While Oracle is the undisputed database software market leader, the company has historically lagged in the tools area. Critics have claimed that the company's tool lineup is confusing, expensive, and difficult to use, and Oracle's user base has typically looked elsewhere for tools. That's left the door open for competitors, such as Powersoft and its PowerBuilder development tool, to capture a large share of Oracle's own installed base.

The suite is comprised of Oracle's high-end development tools, intended for both Web and client-server application development. The package includes Oracle Developer/2000 and Designer/2000 development tools, Web Application Server, InterOffice groupware, Oracle7 database server, and a development kit for building NCA components, called cartridges. Also included in the suite is a one-year membership in Oracle's Developer Programme, which provides technical reference material and other information.

The suite is priced at $7,995 for corporate developers, and at $1,495 for value-added resellers and independent software vendors. Wall said the cut-rate price for VARs and ISVs is intended to entice professional developers to build applications, based on Oracle's software, for resale to end users.

Oracle will update the suite to work with new versions of its software, as they roll out over the coming year.

The Web Developer Suite is the first of a series of development tool suites planned by the company. Suites for building data warehousing applications are also expected, although no release date has been set.