February 18, 2004 6:00 AM PST

Sun, Big Blue reach out to developers

Sun Microsystems plans to launch a broad testing program next month for its highly anticipated Java development tool, Java Studio Creator.

The Java inventor announced Wednesday that it is releasing a second technical preview of Creator to the 86 companies that have requested an early look at the tools. In March, that testing will be widened into a beta program, allowing Sun to complete Creator in time for the JavaOne conference this summer, according to company representatives.

Sun is seeking to persuade programmers to make Creator their tool of choice for building Web applications with Java. Its decision to build an entirely new product for this was based on customer demand for an easier-to-use Java tool, according to representatives. In particular, Sun is going after developers accustomed to the drag-and-drop programming system popularized by Microsoft's Visual Basic.

Creator is designed for building the simpler programs used in smaller companies or in departments of larger organizations. Sun intends to maintain a separate product line, called Sun Java Studio, for more-complex applications that use the server-centric Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standard.

The updated technical preview of Creator will introduce features to hide the complex details of underlying Java code, said Jim Inscore, the group marketing manager for corporate development tools at Sun. The tool will ship with Sun Java System Application Server Platform Edition, Sun's free Java application server software.

The beta version of Creator will incorporate support for the JavaServer Faces standard, which simplifies the construction of Web applications that draw on server databases, Inscore said.

IBM, another Java tools heavyweight, unveiled Wednesday a program to make it easier for developers to evaluate its software products. The program is designed to give a push to IBM's consolidated development tools strategy, IBM Software Development Platform.

Big Blue introduced eight "PowerPacks," which are bundles of evaluation software and documentation tailored to different types of programmers. Developers can get evaluation versions of IBM's Rational, WebSphere, Domino Web document management and Tivoli security software. They also get access to tutorials and other technical documents. The packs are designed to encourage team programming and collaboration. IBM has created evaluation programs for analysts, software architects, technology managers, testers and project managers.

Late last year, Big Blue announced a multiyear initiative to build all of its development tools on top of the Eclipse open-source platform. This should allow developers to mix and match different products within the same programming application.

 

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