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Netscape toolkit offers Java, components

The company's SuiteTools 2.0 package is part of its ongoing effort to shift its revenue focus to server and development products.

Netscape Communications (NSCP) announced today new development tools for building networked, Java-based enterprise applications as part of its strategic effort to gain a greater foothold in the enterprise.

The SuiteTools 2.0 package shifts the focus of development from Netscape's ONE platform to JavaBeans, prebuilt Java components that developers connect with JavaScript to create customized applications. JavaScript is a scripting language created by Netscape that works with, but is unrelated to, Sun Microsystems' Java language. The tools also allow developers to build new Beans.

The package is part of Netscape's ongoing effort to shift its revenue focus to server and development products. One focus of its product line is the "extranet," a term Netscape has popularized to describe a company's hybrid public-private network, as secure as an intranet but open to selected customers or business partners.

The company recently hired Randy Favero as vice president of professional services to bolster the company's effort to be a better solution provider and integrator. Favero in September told CNET's NEWS.COM that his division could grow to 600 people by the end of next year but wouldn't challenge established systems integrators any time soon.

Company executives indicated yesterday that Netscape might be slowing its product cycles down and worrying less about the features "arms race." Some industry observers feel fierce competition, especially in the Internet software market, has pressured companies to ship buggy products adorned with superfluous bells and whistles.

"Customers are saying they want us to be a true enterprise supplier, with less focus on features and more on quality," said Rick Fleischman, group product manager for Netscape tools.

SuiteTools 2.0 is comprised of Visual JavaScript Pro 1.0 and Component Builder 1.0. The JavaScript tool is a drag-and-drop development environment in which developers take existing JavaBeans, supplied by Netscape and other software makers, and allow them communicate using JavaScript.

Component Builder is actually a rebundling of two third-party development tools for programmers who want to create JavaBeans from scratch. The tools included are Symantec's Visual Cafe 2.0 Professional Developer Edition for JavaBeans and Acadia's JSBean Builder for JavaScript components. Component Builder also includes a kit with documentation, training material, and code samples.

Visual JavaScript Pro 1.0 and Component Builder 1.0 will be available before the end of the year, either separately at $795 and $295 per seat, respectively, or packaged together at $995 per seat.