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BEA makes pitch to woo Java developers

At its customer conference in Florida, BEA Systems fills in the details on its upcoming WebLogic Platform 8.1, and hopes Java developers will do more than just listen.

BEA Systems on Tuesday tried to wow its developer community with details of its forthcoming business software.

At BEA's customer conference in Orlando, Fla., this week, executives at the Java server software company described enhancements to its suite of server software that will simplify Java programming for complex business processes. The upgrade, called WebLogic Platform 8.1, entered beta testing on Monday and will be available in the middle of the year.

Gaining developer loyalty by having better tools is central to BEA's strategy of gaining market share in the intensely competitive market for Java server software and tools, according to analysts.

Like its rivals IBM and Oracle, BEA has filled out its product line with specialized integration software and a portal server to drive sales. With the associated programming tool, WebLogic Workshop, BEA is giving developers a single tool to create applications for each of its server products.

At the company's customer conference, BEA executives touted Workshop's ability to marry application development with application integration. Incompatible computing systems are consistently a barrier to successful IT projects, said Alfred Chuang, BEA's CEO, at the customer conference.

"Success is managing the real-time flow of information through enterprise systems and through organizations. The organization that manages the information flow effectively, wins," said Chuang.

As previously reported, Workshop 8.1 will allow developers to use a relatively easy XML-based language to visually design business processes and create Java code from those workflow models. BEA intends to incorporate the Web service standard for business process management, or choreography, into its WebLogic Integration server once it is finalized, according to executives.

Programmers will also be able to build in standardized security mechanisms using the WS-Security standard. The company will also be incorporating security administration to the WebLogic application server from its recent acquisition of CrossLogix. Ultimately, the product will be to administer non-Web Logic systems, according to Chuang.

With its portal server, BEA will add a mobile-development kit to its portal server around midyear, and tools to simplify administration of many portals, according to company executives. The company is also submitting a number of its own portal enhancements, including a Web publishing model, Java Page Flows, to the Java standards process and to Struts, an open-source Web application framework.

The integration server will comply with the reliable messaging Web services specification and add the ability to convert XML document formats.

In an effort to entice Java developers toward BEA's software, the company introduced a program that will give developers easier access to both WebLogic Workshop and WebLogic Platform. Included in the dev2dev Subscriptions program is a trial version that gives a programmer a free one-year license for Workshop.