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12/30/2003
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BEA Bolsters Workshop With New Tools

The additions to the development environment are designed to make Java more competitive with Microsoft's tools.

BEA Systems Inc. has added two tools -- Java Page Flow and XML Beans -- to its Workshop development environment to make Java more of a competitor with Microsoft's tools.

"Microsoft has had a huge advantage in the productivity and ease of use of its tools," concedes Byron Sebastian, general manager of BEA's WebLogic Workshop and WebLogic Portal products. Now he wants to see BEA instill greater ease of use in Workshop so that Java remains a competitor with Microsoft's .Net tools.

By being more competitive with Microsoft, Workshop's Java tools also will compete better with BEA's Java-based competition, such as IBM's WebSphere Studio, Sebastian says.

The Page Flow Portability Kit takes an existing popular-but-complicated feature of Java and tries to make it more accessible to non-guru type programmers. The Page Flow kit embeds into Workshop a framework-building capability found in the open-source code Jakarta Struts 1.1. By using a framework, a programmer is presented with a ready-made combination of coded business functions and application interfaces that can be used for a specific task -- then, with minor additions and variations, used again for a related task. Frameworks speed development and don't require the programmer to know as much about the intricacies of Java, Sebastian says.

The second major addition to Workshop is XML Beans, which treat an XML message as a software object and manipulate it something like a Java Bean, meaning that it can be called over a network to perform certain functions. Programmers can use Java to call the XML Bean and have it perform in a predictable way or deliver data, Sebastian says.

Because many Web applications rely on XML for messaging, "XML Beans bring together integration and development," Sebastian says. By using XML Beans, the programmer is assured that the application being built will be able to communicate and exchange data with other applications following the same XML and Java standards, he says.

BEA Systems has submitted its XML Beans approach to the Apache Software Foundation, which has launched an XML Beans project to continue development of the concept and ensure that it remains a standard approach to application building, Sebastian says.

"We see Java as becoming easier to use" overall, he says, and BEA is speeding the process along on key features needed to compete with .Net's programmer productivity.

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