Borland Software Corp. on Tuesday introduced an additional level of peer-to-peer collaboration in its Java integrated development environment with the release of JBuilder 2006.
Development tools from major vendors frequently allow team collaboration, such as checking code in and out of a central repository, reviewing test results, and sharing progress reports--all based on team member privileges. But JBuilder 2006 will allow two geographically separated programmers to work simultaneously on the same code, identifying bugs together or correcting glitches.
Being able to work on shared code in real time "is a tremendous addition" to the development environment, says Kevin Dean, application services manager for Dolphin Data Development Ltd., a contract development firm for manufacturing and logistics applications.
He is part of a team that is widely distributed geographically and meets face to face only occasionally during the course of a project. "People working on different pieces of code--the user interface versus the back-end business logic--can work together to debug how they work together," Dean says.
Being able to share a screen and interactively edit code is taking team-based development a step forward over previous tools he's worked with, he adds. The collaboration feature has "active differencing," allowing the entries of one developer to be given their own color, as when editing a text document.
JBuilder 2006, in addition to its use for interactive development, would be helpful in teaching advanced development technologies or allowing an experienced developer to mentor a newcomer to the field, Dean says.
Future versions of JBuilder will work with the open-source Eclipse programmer workbench, where many tools plug in to a shared environment and exchange files with each other. This first release of JBuilder 2006, however, is the last version of the toolset that will be based on Borland's proprietary framework.
All editor tools in the development environment are shareable. Specifications and models also may be shared, says Rob Cheng, Borland director of product marketing. Developers also may exchange instant messages or chat about their work in progress. Automated detection lets a developer know who else on the team is logged in and working on the project.
A bare-bones version of JBuilder, the foundation version, is available for free download. A developer's version is priced at $500, and an enterprise version is priced at $3,500 per seat.
JBuilder competes with IBM's Rational tools unit, Sun Microsystems' Sun Studio, Compuware's OptimalJ, Oracle's JDeveloper, and JetBrains' IntelliJ.