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Rational integrates software suite

The company is touting a unified software product that allows developers to build software as a team.

Rational Software is integrating its disparate development and testing tools into one unified suite to allow developers to build software as a team, the company announced today.

The Rational Suite--featuring a new integration architecture--combines 10 newly updated Rational products, including Rational Rose, a visual modeling tool; Rational Team Test, a testing tool for applications; and Rational Requisite Pro, messaging software for development teams.

"This is a rationalization of the Rational product line. It's bringing all the pieces together in a logical, strong, integrated story," said analyst Dick Heiman of International Data Corporation in Framingham, Massachusetts. "If you look at the history of Rational, they grew rapidly by acquisitions in 1997, and as a result, inherited a number of very good, but disparate products that didn't work together."

Eric Schurr, Rational's vice president and general manager of marketing and Rational Suite, said the goal is to support a team approach to developing software and bring a sense of "order and clarity" as team members perform different tasks, such as analysis, modeling, and testing.

Rational Suite's new team integration architecture features a common programming interface that allows the user of any Rational tool to access data in all other Rational tools. The result, for the user, is integrated information and automated workflow, he said.

To ensure compatibility and ease of use, the company is synchronizing the release dates of all the Rational tools--and delivering them in one single CD.

Rational Suite, which is expected to ship within 30 days, will come in four editions: Rational Suite AnalystStudio, Rational Suite DevelopmentStudio, Rational Suite TestStudio, and Rational Suite Enterprise. Prices range from $3,295 to $7,495 for single-user licenses.

The suite--which is used in Windows and Unix platforms and integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio--mostly repackages tools that Rational has released before, but it does offer one new technology called Rational TestFactory, which automatically generates tests and finds run-time errors and defects that cause software to crash.