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Sun to hand out Web-ready Java tool

Java Studio Creator, a tool designed to appeal to Microsoft developers, will enter a broad testing program next month, in a version with added Web application features.

Sun Microsystems will begin a broadly available testing program next month for its forthcoming Java Studio Creator, a Java development tool designed to woo away Microsoft programmers.

The company said on Monday that an early-access program for Java Studio Creator, formerly called Project Rave, will begin April 8. The update includes enhancements that will be included in the final version of Creator, which is slated for release this summer, according to Sun.

Java Studio Creator is a new product in Sun's line of Java tools for building business applications. Creator is designed to appeal to software developers looking for visual tools that will help them rapidly construct relatively simple Web applications. Sun also sells Java Studio Enterprise, a programming tool with sufficient capabilities for building complex Java applications, such as for a high-volume Web site.

With Creator, Sun hopes to appeal to millions of Visual Basic developers by giving them a Java-centric alternative to Microsoft's popular tool. Creator is also intended to drive sales of the company's Java server software and hardware, Sun has said.

The latest update of the tool adds support for JavaServer Faces, a Java standard for building visual applications that tap into back-end data sources. Sun has also incorporated some user interface changes from NetBeans version 3.6 into Creator. (NetBeans is the open-source software that forms the basis of Sun's Java development tools line.)

Java Studio Creator will include a developer license for the Java System Application Server Platform Edition 8 and Web server software. Sun intends to sell Creator as a stand-alone product when it is finalized.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company is also mulling a plan to bundle its Java Studio Creator and Java Studio Enterprise on a single CD and charge a flat monthly fee, much like it charges for its Java Enterprise System server software package, according to Jeff Anders, group marketing manager for Sun's developer platform.