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WebGain sells Java development tool

TogetherSoft executives plan to purchase the family of software programming tools, called WebGain Studio, which includes the popular Visual Caf? Java tool.

Software start-up TogetherSoft on Monday announced that it would acquire most of the remaining assets of Java development tools maker WebGain.

TogetherSoft executives said they will purchase WebGain's family of software programming tools, called WebGain Studio, which includes the popular Visual Caf? Java tool. TogetherSoft will provide support to existing customers and plans to release a new version of the tools next year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

WebGain, a 3-year-old company spun off from Symantec, has laid off most of its 400 employees and has been trying to sell off its technology before shutting its doors. In June, the struggling company sold its Toplink software to database giant Oracle for an undisclosed sum. Toplink is a tool that speeds the building of software by connecting Java software code with databases. As part of the deal, about 90 WebGain employees became Oracle employees.

TogetherSoft will continue to support existing customers of WebGain Studio Version 4.52, executives said. TogetherSoft also plans to release version 7 of the WebGain Studio next year. Version 7 had been in the works before WebGain ran into financial trouble.

The company is buying the WebGain tools to entice WebGain's customers to migrate to TogetherSoft's tools, called ControlCenter, said Keith Boswell, TogetherSoft's vice president of marketing and business development. TogetherSoft sells an easy-to-use suite of tools for building and running Java software. It allows programmers to do "modeling," or build graphical representations of software.

"WebGain Studio is a very good piece of technology. We gain a lot of customers and some capabilities in (Visual Cafe) that were better than (ours)," he said.

TogetherSoft's acquisition will boost its tools, but the company faces stiff competition from bigger rivals, such as IBM, Sun, Oracle and Borland, said Chris Dial, analyst at Forrester Research.

"TogetherSoft is getting a platform for coding underneath the modeling tools they have, but it's a tough market," Dial said. "IBM has its Eclipse project. Sun is putting more energy into its tools, and Oracle's JDeveloper is a strong product. TogetherSoft is walking into a fire."

Including Visual Caf?, TogetherSoft will purchase three other WebGain tools in the deal: StructureBuilder Enterprise, a modeling tool; Business Designer, a management tool for ensuring that a software project meets business needs; and Quality Analyzer, a testing tool that looks for ways developers can improve their software code.

The lone remaining WebGain asset yet to be sold is a modeling tool called Application Composer, a WebGain spokeswoman said.

WebGain was created in December 1999 after e-commerce software maker BEA Systems and investment firm Warburg Pincus Ventures acquired Symantec's Internet tools division for $75 million.