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Oracle pounds out new tools

Oracle will fire another volley in its battle to capture intranet developers by introducing a new toolset and a point upgrade to its database server software.

Oracle (ORCL) next week will fire the latest volley in its battle to capture intranet developers by introducing a new toolset for retrofitting older applications with a new Web interface and a point upgrade to its database server software that provides better support for text data commonly found on the Internet.

Oracle Developer/2000 for the Web, to be unveiled at the company's Oracle Open World user meeting next week in San Francisco, is a revamped version of an existing tool used to build applications atop Oracle's database server. Using the new tool, developers can build new Web applications or add a Java interface to existing client-server systems.

The tool will eliminate the need for developers to build multiple client interfaces for a single application. For instance, as users need to gain access to corporate applications from machines using Windows, Macintosh, and Unix-based systems, developers must write custom client software for each operating system. Deploying applications with a Web interface simplifies development because programmers need only to build a single Java version of the client portion, which runs identically in all browsers supporting Java, whether they be installed on PCs, Macintosh systems, or network computers.

For transforming existing applications, the tool converts client software into a Java equivalent without recoding. The tool is expected to ship in the first quarter of next year, though no pricing is available. Oracle officials refused to comment on the product.

Oracle also will unveil at the user meeting the Oracle 7.3.3, an upgrade to the company's database server retooled for faster performance. Oracle will also debut a rebuilt version of Oracle's ConText Option text server that provides better integration with the company's database server.

Sources close to the company said that despite earlier reports to the contrary, the company will not provide further details next week on Oracle 8, a hybrid database server designed to manage both object and relational data. Oracle 8, now in beta testing and scheduled to ship by mid-1997, has been hyped by the company for more than two years. It will compete directly with similar next-generation database servers slated to be available from competing database software makers beginning late this year.

At the meeting, Oracle will provide a road map for its object-based development toolset, code-named Sedona, that builds upon Oracle 8's object data support, sources said. Sedona is expected to debut in stages, starting later this year.