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Symantec makes Java development simpler

Symantec is making software development with Enterprise JavaBeans a bit simpler.

Symantec is making software development with Enterprise JavaBeans a bit simpler.

The Java toolmaker will soon add new technology to its Visual Cafe Enterprise Suite which is intended to save Java developers time and make it easier for them to target application servers from multiple vendors.

The company on Monday is announcing an "EJB Universal Framework" that includes wizards and tools to generate EJB templates. That way, programmers can concentrate on building an applications' business logic and not have to write the general, nitty-gritty, book-keeping code, said Kent Mitchell, Symantec's Visual Cafe senior product manager.

Symantec is also creating specialized modules that let businesses deploy their EJBs more quickly on specific application servers. Application servers sit between Web browsers and databases and run the business logic--or the rules and regulations--of an application.

Right now, applications are deployed differently in each application server, an issue that a new future version of EJBs is supposed to address, Mitchell said. But until that new version of EJB is done, Symantec's modules will be tailored to the specific application server's unique characteristics, he said.

Symantec will support BEA's WebLogic app server first, with support for others in the works, including Sun's NetDynamics, IBM's WebSphere, and Iona's Orbix BeansTalk.

Joshua Walker, of Forrester Research, said Symantec's move for tighter integration to vendors' application servers is a smart strategy.

Because Symantec's tool is so popular among Java developers, it's important that they try to customize it to every application server, he said. "Symantec doesn't have an [application server], but as a leading tool provider they will try to play the neutral ground. We see tremendous value in that."

Also part of the framework is enhanced debugging support for EJBs. The Enterprise Suite features a single user interface that lets programmers view and work on all parts of a distributed application, so the software looks like one piece on a single machine, rather than dozens of pieces scattered across a network. "This is a lot smoother than before," Mitchell said.

Anne Thomas, of the Patricia Seybold Group, was not impressed with Symantec's announcement, saying the company is playing catch-up with IBM and Inprise which are offering similar technologies.

In fact, Thomas said the technology that generates templates and Java code is similar in concept to the software that Inline Software offers, but Inline's product offers more features. In fact, Inprise is bundling Inline's software with its JBuilder Java tool.

"Everybody who has been doing Java IDEs has already implemented this template stuff to automate the building of EJB-required interfaces," she said.

Symantec had planned to integrate Inline's technology to its products, but the partnership fell through, said Symantec's Mitchell, who declined to give further details.

The EJB Universal Framework--which will be a free upgrade to current Visual Cafe Enterprise Edition users--is in beta now and should be released in late June or early July. Another new feature in the framework is an "XML-based deployment descriptor," which will be part of the new EJB standard from Sun.