The Java developers market is changing, and one of the new requirements is a tool that can simplify and abstract the complexity of Java applications on the Java platform.
The upcoming launch of BEA Systems' WebLogic Workshop, formerly code-named Cajun, represents a timely product announcement for what Gartner believes will be a growing segment of the Java developer community: the rapid application development (RAD) market.
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BEA aims to broaden its developer pool
Other vendors--Computer Associates International, Compuware and Versata, to name a few--are also addressing the complexity of Java development for high-end systematic development projects. However, BEA's approach is somewhat unique because it is targeting corporate mass-market developers--a market currently dominated by technologies such as Microsoft's Visual Basic.
By targeting these opportunistic, tactical RAD developers, BEA will, in essence, be going after Microsoft's traditional user base. Former Microsoft engineers acquired through BEA's CrossGain purchase will attempt to do with WebLogic Workshop and Java what Microsoft has done with Visual Basic in the RAD or in-house corporate developer market.
In Gartner's view, however, BEA faces two challenges.
First, while BEA has indicated it will submit its technology for standardization through the Java Community Process, there is no guarantee--yet--that BEA's technology extensions will be adopted. In the worst-case scenario, WebLogic Workshop could lock developers into BEA's middleware, and it runs the risk of being labeled proprietary--which serves to reduce cross-platform appeal. In its initial release, the product will indeed lock developers into solutions that rely entirely on BEA's middleware. It is uncertain if WebLogic Workshop extensions will be widely supported by other vendors.
Second, BEA has little experience in development tool markets and very little experience in RAD markets. Instead, BEA has forged its customer base from higher-end strategic and systematic markets with products such as Tuxedo and WebLogic. BEA's lack of experience in the RAD tool market--in particular, its sales and support teams--will likely challenge the company as it executes the new strategy and supports new classes of customers.
Gartner recommends that developers struggling with the complexity of the Java platform and looking for a simpler Java with which to develop Web services should consider WebLogic Workshop. However, they should realize that the solution is immature and has uncertain long-term prospects, and a potential exists for getting locked into BEA's products.
(For a related commentary on BEA Systems' targeting of new markets, see gartner.com.)
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