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IBM debuts new Web tools

Big Blue announces plans to ship a new version of WebSphere Studio, a set of software-development tools that convert existing Java software into Web-based software and services.

IBM is readying new tools to bolster its Web-services plan.

The company this week announced plans to ship a new version of WebSphere Studio, a set of software-development tools that convert existing Java software into Web-based software and services, IBM said. Big Blue is also showing off a preview of new technology, called WebSphere Private UDDI Registry, that will allow individual companies to create a private online directory for housing their Web services.

The new tools are part of IBM's strategy to deliver software as a service over the Web to PCs, cell phones and other handheld devices. IBM is competing against Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, BEA Systems, Oracle, Borland and others in building and selling the software that allows companies to deliver those Web services.

Scott Hebner, IBM's marketing director for WebSphere software, said WebSphere Studio Version 4, available at the end of August, makes it easy to convert existing Java software into Web-based services through "wizards," which guides programmers through the development process without having to write extra code.

Hebner said the preview of IBM's WebSphere Private UDDI Registry is an offshoot of an industrywide effort called Universal Description Discovery and Integration (UDDI), which offers a public online directory for businesses to describe the services they offer and allow those services to be located by other businesses. IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Ariba and other major technology companies are backers of the UDDI effort.

By month's end, IBM will also ship its latest Java software development tool which features support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition, the latest Java standard for writing business software.

IBM also released a test version of WebSphere Studio Workbench for the Linux operating system, which allows software developers to integrate IBM's development tools with other companies' tools and access them through a common interface. The Workbench is available for download on IBM's Web site. IBM previously released the Workbench tool for the Windows operating system.

The new Java development tool, called Visual Age for Java Version 4, will also include a test version of IBM's next-generation Java tool, which offers the Workbench features.

In other news, IBM this week also announced new data-analysis tools for its WebSphere Commerce Suite, software that allows companies to create and run e-commerce Web sites. The data-analysis tools allow e-commerce sites to examine their customers' preferences to generate detailed reports on buying patterns.

The analysis tool, called WebSphere Commerce Analyzer Advanced Edition, includes IBM's DB2 database and technology from Brio Technology, maker of software that helps generate reports. Customer can build reports on their own or use the 200 different types of reports that IBM has already prepared, said Dan Graham, IBM's marketing executive for business intelligence products.