New Modeling Tools Narrow The Developer-Business User Gap

Borland and Compuware upgrade the software-modeling capabilities of their Java toolsets.
As software modeling becomes more sophisticated, the gap between the software business users want and the code that gets delivered is getting narrower.

Borland Software Corp.'s Together 2006 modeling tools have been upgraded to include the ability to model business processes. The Together toolset supports Business Process Modeling Notation, a standard graphical means of expressing business processes. By using BPMN, a business analyst can model a business process and the model may be carried forward into the system design and software model of the application, says Marc Brown, director of product marketing.

Using BPMN is more precise that current modeling approaches, and business processes captured in it may be more precisely translated into software models, yielding better results for the business user, he says.

"The support for business-process modeling connects the line-of-business organization to the IT organization," Brown says. The business-process notation is ultimately transformed into Unified Modeling Language 2.0 symbols and notation used for software modeling. The Together 2006 modeling capabilities give business users and software architects and designers "a common language through visual models."

Because the Together 2006 tools come in role-based versions, models may be moved from the business analyst's process diagram, into the software architect's tool, to a system designer's tool, and into a developer's tool. Developers need to be able to refer to the model because they're responsible for keeping the code synchronized with the model, Brown says.

The improved toolset, revealed this week, will be available in the third quarter, with pricing announced in July, Brown says. The Together tools work inside the Eclipse programmer's workbench.

Like Borland's product, Compuware Corp.'s OptimalJ 4.0 Java-development tool uses a model-driven approach. It also models the business domain or business steps of an application in UML 2.0 Activity Diagrams.

For the first time, applications built with its Developer edition can be edited inside the Eclipse workbench, product manager Mike Sawicki says. All future versions of the OptimalJ tools will "embrace the Eclipse platform" and plug into it. Eclipse imposes a shared file format on projects under development, he says, allowing different tools to work with the same code.

Compuware hasn't joined the parade to Eclipse until now on the grounds that Eclipse had been too much under the control of IBM, which originated the programmer's workbench core code and contributed it as an open-source project.

"There's a healthy ecosystem there, with momentum outside the IBM influence," Sawicki notes.

In addition to Developer, OptimalJ comes in Architecture and Professional editions that generate code from the UML 2.0 models of an application. Programmers use the Developer edition to make additions to the code that has been automatically generated in the Architecture and Professional tools.

In addition, Compuware brings an expertise in patterns of Java development to its tools and reviews both models and code for adherence to best development practices and patterns. As part of OptimalJ 4.0, Compuware is offering an online Pattern Plaza, a collaborative exchange of best practices and sites to check the quality of code under development.

Sun Microsystems revealed an early-access program for its Java Studio Creator 2. Its Creator tools are designed to take some of the complexity out of Java development by allowing developers to move around a graphical environment and add to an existing application framework.

New additions to Creator, available through the early-access program, include a version built on Sun's NetBeans 4.1 integrated development environment. The IDE allows automated reconfiguring of an application so it can, say, be moved from a client to a server system. Creator also has an expanded set of JavaServer Faces components for building applications.

Oracle is making its Oracle JDeveloper 10g Java tool available for free download. Rick Schultz, VP of product marketing for developer tools, says Oracle wanted to expand the Java developer community and make database application building tools readily available. It's also seeking to lead an Eclipse project on JavaServer Faces, which would build a set of open-source tools that ease the difficulty of building user interfaces in Java.

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