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More jump on CORBA train

Netscape's backing of the Common Object Request Broker Architecture convinces software toolmakers to jump on the CORBA train.

Netscape Communications' (NSCP) backing of Common Object Request Broker Architecture for building component software is convincing software toolmakers to jump on the CORBA train.

A handful of software development toolmakers today announced new features designed to make it easier to build cross-platform component-based applications using CORBA, a standard adopted by Netscape, Oracle, and other vendors.

CORBA is a widely adopted standard that defines communications between applications and components. Netscape has based its Internet Inter-ORB (IIOP) protocol on the architecture, and says that will make it easier for companies to retrofit existing client-server applications to work with component software written in Java.

But outside of Netscape's own tools, few others exist for making CORBA applications easy to build. That's put the initiative at a disadvantage to Microsoft's competitive component strategy, which is based on its ActiveX technology. Most tools on the market already support ActiveX in some form.

Today, ObjectShare, a division of toolmaker ParcPlace-Digitalk, said it is integrating a CORBA-compliant object request broker with the next version of its Java development tool, called Parts for Java. The company will later this year release a version of Parts integrated with Iona Technology's OrbixWeb Java object request broker. Pricing has not been set.

The Parts for Java/OrbixWeb combo will also include wizards for building CORBA-compliant Java applications. A CORBA Wizard will let developers browse a CORBA repository and select the objects with which their application can communicate. All underlying communications software is generated automatically, turning one of the most difficult CORBA development tasks into a simple point-and-click operation.

Expersoft, another toolmaker, said today it is integrating its CORBAPlus development tool with Versant's object database management software. The combined package will give developers a CORBA tool tethered to an object repository to simplify component management.

The additional CORBAPlus/Versant integration will cost $495 and will be available by month's end. CORBAPlus is priced from $2,995.

Expersoft also inked a deal with Rational Software to link CORBAPlus to the Rational Rose visual modeling tool. The tool will let CORBAPlus developers model entire applications in Rational Rose, which will then automatically generate definitions for creating code in CORBAPlus.

Rational will begin support for CORBAPlus later this month. Full integration between the tools will be in place by the second quarter of this year, according to the companies. CORBAPlus is priced at $2,995; Rational Rose costs $1,600.