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Powersoft founders move to Java

A start-up staffed by former Powersoft executives is set to introduce a toolset for building business applications entirely in Java.

A development tool start-up, staffed by the founders of one-time tools heavyweight Powersoft, will introduce a toolset Monday for building business applications entirely in Java.

The company, SilverStream, is headed by Dave Litwack, the former president and founder of Sybase subsidiary Powersoft.

The company's namesake product, SilverStream, borrows heavily from proven database technology and is a Web application development system that's written in Java and builds Java client and server applications. The toolset generates business logic and database access as well as other communications code, along with client, server, and middle-tier software.

Company executives said the toolset is intended to give developers a single, integrated package for building sophisticated Web-based business applications. The tool would deliver the cross-platform benefits of Java in a toolset that masks the low-level complexity of the Java language.

In a sense, SilverStream founders are hoping that the fledgling company will become to Web development what Powersoft's PowerBuilder has been to client-server development. PowerBuilder is generally acknowledged as one of the first and most popular application development tools for database-centric business systems.

Currently, most companies building new Web applications or moving existing client-server applications to the Web rely on a grab bag of specialized tools that require programmers to learn special commands for each, said David Dewan, SilverStream's vice president of product strategy and formerly vice president of technology at Powersoft. Using multiple tools to build applications also means that programmers spend a significant amount of time piecing together code from dissimilar tools, he added.

SilverStream is a single application, Dewan said, that includes all tools necessary for building and deploying applications. The package includes a forms designer, data definition tools, programming editors, page designers, and other tools. All application components are stored in a single database, simplifying development, maintenance, and deployment.

The company chose to build the tool itself in Java, instead of C or C++ as is the norm, Dewan noted. This gave the company's developers first-hand knowledge of the still-evolving language. "We're out on the leading edge of Java. We're been using JDK 1.1.1 and it still has some bugs."

SilverStream is priced at $4,995 per server and at $100 per user. The tool is now in alpha testing. A beta test is slated to begin next month, and the tool is scheduled to ship by the end of September, according to Dewan.