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Blackbird taking wing

Microsoft's Web development tool, formerly code-named Blackbird, will finally take flight early next year.

Microsoft's Web development tool, formerly code-named Blackbird, will finally take flight early next year, repackaged as a database-aware Web development tool named Visual InterDev, the company said today.

Today the company posted a beta version of the tool to its Web site. Visual InterDev, which combines database development tools with client-side Web page creation tools borrowed from the company's FrontPage Web authoring tool, is aimed a corporate developers building large-scale Internet and intranet applications with an HTML-based Web client.

Microsoft said the tool will compete with similar packages such as Haht Software's Hahtsite, NetObjects NetObjects Fusion, and Borland International's IntraBuilder.

Microsoft has attempted to differentiate Visual InterDev from competitors' tools by including tight links to its own products and technology, making it easy to build applications based on the company's ActiveX technology, for instance. The tool can be extended using ActiveX components built using Microsoft's Visual Basic and Visual C++ tools.

Visual InterDev joins Microsoft's rapidly expanding Visual tools lineup alongside Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual J++, Visual FoxPro, Visual SourceSafe, and Visual Test. All of the tools use the same Developer's Studio integrated development environment, making it easier for developers to move among the various tools without learning a new interface.

The tool also includes support for Microsoft's Active Server technology, including Active Server pages scripting, formerly code-named Denali, Microsoft Transaction Server, formerly code-named Viper, along with message queuing technology code-named Falcon. Active Server allows developers to build the server side of Web applications.

Visual InterDev also includes tools for Web site management, content editing, and for enabling team development of applications.

Pricing will be announced when the tool ships in the first quarter of next year, according to the company.