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Powersoft gives tools a face-lift

The software company is giving its development tool line a face-lift.

Powersoft is giving its development tool line a face-lift.

The tools division of database software maker Sybase (SYBS) plans to rename, redesign, and repackage its PowerBuilder, Jato, Optima++, and NetImpact Dynamo tools starting next quarter, according to the company.

In the longer term, a host of technology innovations are also planned, including the addition of support for object models, such as the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA), Component Object Model, Distributed COM, and component technologies such as JavaBeans and ActiveX, according to Dave Boswell, vice president and general manager of the Powersoft division.

The renaming will begin this spring as new versions of the tools debut.

The company plans to begin beta testing a new version of its core tool, PowerBuilder, code-named Panther, later this spring. The update, which will retain the PowerBuilder label, will include the ability to package the PowerBuilder client run-time software as an ActiveX component, allowing it to be distributed across the Internet and corporate intranets.

Also included in Panther will be a new code debugger, enhancements to the tool's Data Window, and support for Microsoft's OLE database technology.

Panther will also mark the debut of a new PowerBuilder architecture that will allow the company to ship incremental updates to the tool without forcing developers to install and learn an entirely new version. For instance, PowerSoft plans to ship support for COM, Java, and other technologies as downloadable enhancements that plug into the tool.

Boswell said the company also plans to port PowerBuilder to new operating systems, in addition to the current Windows 95, Windows NT, Mac OS, and Solaris support. He declined to identify the additional operating systems.

Also slated for delivery this quarter is the company's Jato Java development tool, now called PowerJ; version 2.0 of Optima++, now called Power++; a beta version of NetImpact Studio, now called PowerSite; and shipment of S-Designor version 6.0.

Boswell said support for CORBA, COM, DCOM, JavaBeans, and ActiveX technologies will be added to the tool lineup in an incremental fashion, starting with products to be delivered later this year.

Long-range plans call for integration of the company's tools into a single, universal development environment to support all facets of enterprise development, Boswell said. "We're moving toward a unified common development environment. The first move will be to provide a common look and feel," he said.

Boswell differentiates Powersoft's plan from Microsoft's Visual Studio product line, which marks the integration of Visual Basic with other Microsoft tools. "We support Unix as a server platform and will support a range of industry standard object models," he said, referring to Microsoft's Windows-only, ActiveX-centric architecture.

No pricing for any of the forthcoming Powersoft tools has been announced.