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IBM brews new Java tools

Big Blue makes good on its promise to supply corporate programmers with cutting-edge tools by shipping VisualAge for Java.

IBM (IBM) is making good on its promise to supply corporate programmers with cutting-edge Java-based tools.

IBM today shipped VisualAge for Java, a new addition to its growing VisualAge tool lineup for building "100 percent pure" Java applets, JavaBeans, and entire applications.

The company, which boasts a huge installed customer base among Fortune 500 companies, has targeted the tool at programmers faced with linking new Java applications to older, existing business systems.

Visual Age for Java includes a "migration assistant" that converts ActiveX controls into Java Beans, allowing them to work on non-Windows platforms.

"This tool will allow you to recoup a lot of the know-how and code in building ActiveX components," said John Slitz, a vice president in IBM's software solutions unit. "We think people want to move ActiveX controls into the Java space as a one-time exercise. It eliminates the amount of recoding you have to do."

The tool is available now in a $99 Professional Edition version. Next month, IBM plans to ship an Enterprise Edition that includes technology called Enterprise Access Builders, which will let developers link Java clients to existing applications, including relational databases such as IBM's DB2, Oracle and Sybase databases, and transaction-processing systems. No pricing has been announced for the Enterprise Edition.

A Team Programming Server, for supporting groups of developers, will be automatically shipped to registered Enterprise Edition users late this year, IBM said.

IBM today also announced VisualAge WebRunner, a toolkit of Java productivity applications for programmers. The toolkit is offered through a one-year renewable subscription service, priced at $149.

One WebRunner application, called Bean Extender, lets developers extend JavaBeans applications without reprogramming--a technology IBM calls "Bean-dipping."

"This Bean-dipping technology lets developers take a pre-existing Java Bean and with this tool extend it with new functionality, such as security or licensing," said Debbie Coutant, general manager of IBM's Taligent unit.

Bean Extender is now available in a preview version at the company's Web site.