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Oracle woos developers with e-commerce tools

In hopes of attracting more developers, the firm is shipping new tools for building e-commerce software.

In hopes of attracting more developers, Oracle is shipping new tools for building e-commerce software and has spruced up its Web site to give programmers the resources they need to create their applications.

At the Internet World conference in New York today, Oracle is announcing new programming tools, including prebuilt Java software code, which make it easier and faster for developers to build e-commerce Web sites.

The database giant also revamped its developer portal Web site, where programmers can learn about software programming technology and seek advice from other developers or from Oracle technicians.

Like rivals Microsoft, IBM, and others, the database giant is trying to court new developers with low-cost, easy-to-use programming tools and information-packed developer Web sites, hoping they will entice the developers to buy more expensive technologies, such as databases.

With the arrival of the Java programming language and Linux operating system, Oracle executives believe they can lure developers away from writing applications that run on the dominant Windows operating system.

In the hot Web software development market, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Oracle, and others support the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) programming model, while Microsoft has its own programming model.

"We feel the development community is up for grabs for the first time in probably a decade," said Jeremy Burton, Oracle's vice president of server marketing.

To help its efforts, Oracle today announced new development tools for writing software, and an updated version of its application server, which runs the software.

The updated application server, now shipping, supports Java 2 Enterprise Edition, the latest Java standard, which includes the EJB programming model. An application server is software that fetches information and runs the transactions between back-end databases and Web browsers.

Oracle later this month will ship a new version of its Java programming tool, called JDeveloper, which lets developers build everything needed for an application, from user interfaces to links to databases, said Oracle's Burton.

Oracle is also shipping prebuilt Java software code called Oracle Business Components for Java. The prewritten code, which handles connections to databases, for example, saves developers time because it is reusable, Burton said. The prebuilt code also supports XML, a Web standard that helps businesses exchange data easily. The XML support allows developers to customize their applications by simply editing the XML information, he said.

Oracle's updated developer Web site, called Oracle Technology Network, gives users detailed information on XML, Java, and Linux, and the resources to build applications using Oracle's software tools, Burton said.

While Oracle's database is widely used for e-commerce Web sites, analyst Anne Thomas of the Patricia Seybold Group said Oracle still needs to convince non-Oracle users that they can rely on the company as a one-stop shop for all their development needs.

"The true-blue Oracle customer uses the Oracle application server, but not many folks view Oracle as the answer to all things," Thomas said. "They're trying to provide the complete solution. They want to be recognized as a major player, but anyway you look at it, they're a database company."