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Inprise revs JBuilder tool

The company updates the Java development tool to make it simpler and faster for developers to build distributed applications.

Inprise is updating its JBuilder Java development tool to make it simpler and faster for developers to build distributed applications.

The software sports new visual tools that automatically generate code to support and connect to databases and help build Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs) and Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) applications. It is positioned to help the struggling firm sell its more expensive, higher-profit middleware products, such as its application server and VisiBroker Object Request Broker.

JBuilder is a popular and solid Java development tool and ranks among the top three with Microsoft's Visual J++ and Symantec's VisualCafe, said analyst Sally Cusack, of International Data Corporation. But Inprise's woes could affect sales of the tool.

"The Java development tool is not just for enterprise development, but with release 3, that's their goal," she said. "It might put up a cautionary flag and slow down the sales cycle. Users might drive it around the block before committing, to see that the company is stable."

JBuilder 3.0 supports Java 2 and includes a "migration wizard" that lets developers transform their previously developed Java applications into Java 2 code.

It includes a new debugger that can debug applications written in all versions of the Java Development Kit. In past versions of JBuilder, developers could only check for bugs on one machine at a time, but the new version allows them to debug all pieces of a distributed application at the same time.

JBuilder 3.0 also includes more than 300 JavaBean components--or pre-written code--from Inprise, Sun and other third-party vendors; Swing components, such as toolbars, menus and dialog boxes for graphical user interfaces; and database components, such as tables, lists and entry fields.

The new version of JBuilder also includes a new help system that includes all the documentation for Java and JBuilder technology and an embedded Java database to allow remote users to make local copies of corporate information, so they can access data while on the road.

"The whole idea is to make this stuff simpler. It's to provide visual drag and drop component development and getting applications built faster," said Klaus Krull, Inprise's JBuilder senior product manager.

A Microsoft Windows version of JBuilder will ship in May. The Solaris and Linux versions will ship by the end of the year.

Overall, Inprise is offering four versions: enterprise edition, which includes support for EJB, CORBA and team development; a professional edition; a standard version featuring basic features for first-time Java users; and a university edition for students.

The enterprise edition costs $2,499, the professional edition costs $799, the standard edition is $99.95.