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IBM's Big Plans For Eclipse-Based WebSphere Studio

Eclipse's Past, Present, and Future

  • April 14, 2003
  • By Jacqueline Emigh

At the developerWorks Live! show last week, IBM officials articulated expansive plans for WebSphere Studio, Big Blue's Eclipse-based crossplatform development environment. The next edition of the toolkit for Linux and Windows developers will include a new tool for autonomic or "self-maintenance" computing, now entering beta. Over the longer term, future directions include aspect-oriented programming and semantic Web.

Currently in version 5.0, WebSphere Studio uses Eclipse, an open-source integrated development environment (IDE), as its back end. By now, a large chunk of the software industry is starting to use Eclipse in a similar way, according to Scott Hebner, director of marketing for IBM WebSphere.

"Just about every major software vendor other than Microsoft, BEA and Sun has joined the Eclipse Project," Hebner added, during an interview with LinuxPlanet.

IBM was one of eight founding stewards of the project, along with Rational, Borland, RedHat; SuSE; QNX; TogetherSoft; and WebGain. IBM purchased Rational about two months ago, setting up Rational as a separate division, along similar lines to Tivoli and Lotus, two previously acquired software properties.

Software produced by Eclipse is available to developers under the Common Public License. Vendors can release third-party components built with Eclipse either free of charge, or for sale as commercial products.

"We believe software development is going to evolve from manual and line-by-line coding to an architecture for full lifecycle development. We bought Rational because of (its) KDE (Professional). Borland's J-Builder is the only thing that even comes close," Hebner contended this week.

The acquisition by IBM gives Rational access to thousands of IBM research projects, noted Grady Booch, chief scientist in IBM's Rational Division, during a keynote at the show in New Orleans.

IBM's new autonomic tool for log and trace, released into beta this week, lets developers browse across multiple logs, as well as perform troubleshooting and debugging, said Ric Telford, director of architecture and technology for IBM's Autonomic Computing unit.

The log and trace tool is available, as well, from IBM's AlphaWorks site, pointed out Gina W. Poole, IBM's VP for Developer Marketing and Web Communities, during another interview.

Also from the AlphaWorks site, Linux and Windows users can download three other autonomic tools, now in alpha, which may or may not appear as commercial software. The trio includes Business Workload Manager, Tivoli Resource Model Build, and Agent Building and Learning (ABLE), a Java-based framework, component library and toolkit aimed at letting developers tap into machine learning and reasoning for building intelligent agents.

The AlphaWorks site will probably post three or four more autonomic computing tools over the next few months, predicted IBM AlphaWorks Manager Marc Goubert.

WebSphere Visual Studio 4.0, the first release of IBM's component-based toolkit, was essentially a replacement for Visual Age for Java, Hebner observed.

Rational's Booch said that, further into the future, IBM might add technologies such as aspect-enabled programming, agile methodology, and semantic Web, described on the W3C's Web site as "the idea of having data on the web defined and linked in a way that it can be used by machines not just for display purposes, but for automation, integration and reuse of data across applications."

Developers attending the show in New Orleans seemed largely pleased with 5.0. Brian Koehler, a developer at Irwin Mortgage Corp. in Indianapolis, has previously used tools that include VisualAge for Java, J-Builder, and Visual Caf.

"WebSphere Studio is more standards-based than VisualAge. It's more in line with tools like J-Builder," Koehler said. "Personally, I wouldn't have released 4.0, because I don't think it was ready. 5.0 is a big improvement over 4.0, though, because it adds capabilities like conditional trace points."

Other development tools IBM unveiled at the show include a BEA plug-in for WebSphere Studio; Speed-start Web Services; an update to Speed-start Your Linux App; and a new "customizable CD" option for the developerWorks Toolbox subscription, for developers who need to have only a subset of the available tools at hand on a CD.

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