IBM on Thursday will update its WebSphere Studio Java programming tool, the latest volley in an ongoing battle with other industry heavyweights to win over developers.
IBM said WebSphere Studio version 5.1 will improve the productivity of programmers with faster performance and usability enhancements around Web page creation and administration. The tool is sold as an adjunct to IBM's WebSphere Java server software for running custom-built business applications.
The refresh of IBM's flagship Java development tool comes as competition among tools providers appears to be heating up. BEA Systems recently launched WebLogic Workshop 8.1, which is designed to make Java programming much easier. Sun Microsystems, too, is working on a tool intended to make Java programming accessible to a broader audience of developers. And tools maker Borland Software is also filling out its Java programming line.
IBM introduced a number of features designed to appeal to Web developers who may not be trained in the most advanced Java programming techniques. IBM added features to automate the creation and testing of Web page screens, including the ability to update several Web pages at the same time.
By the end of next year, IBM plans to update the Web page design features in WebSphere Studio with support for a Java standard called JavaServer Faces (JSF). The JSF specification, which is still in the Java standardization process, will eliminate a great deal of hand-coding involved in building user interface screens that have connections to back-end database or other server-based applications, said Bob Sutor, director of WebSphere infrastructure software at IBM.
With the JSF capabilities in Java development tools, companies will be able to create more functional front-end screens than simply HTML allows without having to be dependent on the presentation capabilities embedded on Windows desktop PCs, Sutor said. JSF could appeal to companies interested in using the Linux operating system on desktop PCs, he added.
WebSphere Studio adds support for the latest J2EE-related Web services specifications, which allows programmers to build applications to adhere to a set of XML-based standards called Web services. The update will comply with Web services standards guidelines published Tuesday by the Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) organization.
IBM also tapped the application modeling skills it gained through its acquisition of Rational Software last year with a tool that automatically creates a model of an existing application. The modeling features, which were written by Rational employees, aim to facilitate programming with teams of developers, Sutor said.
WebSphere Studio Site Developer, a version aimed at Web developers starts at $1,000 per person and WebSphere Application Developer, which is intended for programmers trained in the J2EE specifications, costs $3,500 per person. Both tools will be available on Aug. 29.