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C++ tool tries to make grade

Borland wants to make life easier for developers with a beta copy of a new tool based on C++.

Borland International (BORL) wants to make life easier for C++ developers.

The company today posted a beta copy of a new tool based on C++, called C++ Builder, to its Web site for free downloading. The company said the builder combines its C++ compiler technology with rapid development capabilities found in its popular Delphi development tool. The combination should make C++ application development easier and faster, according to the company.

The appeal of C++ is its flexibility and power, as it is a fairly low-level language. Existing tools, such as Borland's own compiler and Microsoft's Visual C++, have become popular among developers building components or applications from scratch using lots of handwritten code or with prebuilt software chunks called class libraries.

But the learning curve for C++ developers is steep, and building large-scale applications requires thousands of lines of code. That's why tools like Microsoft's Visual Basic and Powersoft's PowerBuilder have become popular: They allow developers to build larger applications with a minimum of coding.

C++ Builder is the company's attempt to merge the two worlds. The tool includes many of Delphi's rapid application development features, Borland said. It also includes an integrated linker, editor, and debugger, along with database connectivity and a reusable component library.

The tool is slated to ship later this quarter. Like other Borland tools, it will be available in standard, professional, and client-server suite versions to suit the needs of various developers. The standard edition, which does not include all of the database connectivity tools, will cost $99.95.

The professional version that includes additional tools is priced at $799, and a client-server edition with tools for connecting to database servers will be priced at $1,999.

For an alternative download site, go to CNET's DOWNLOAD.COM.