Many of the changes in JDeveloper focus on boosting the performance of Java programs, said John Magee, Oracle's senior director of product marketing. The tool now supports J2EE (Java2 Enterprise Edition) "design patterns", or best practices, which help programmers write code that runs more efficiently.
Oracle has also improved the object relational mapping in JDeveloper, which should help Java programs created with the tool exchange data more smoothly with a database and so support more users. The product also adds built-in profiling - for measuring execution speed - and a "code coach" that scans code for errors.
The Web services idea is still in its infancy, but developers are already being asked to write complex programs that talk to each other over the Internet using standards such as XML, Web Service Description Language (WSDL), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and Universal Description, Discovery, Integration (UDDI). To help them, Oracle integrated tools for those languages in the new product, which means that developers should not have to spend too much time switching between applications.
The 9i JDeveloper will be the first to combine coding with tasks like modelling, profiling, sourcing and SQLdevelopment in a single integrated development environment (IDE), said Magee.
The product will be offered as part of the Oracle9i Developer Suite, priced at $3,995 (£2,750). Developers can also download a free evaluation copy. The new version of JDeveloper runs on Windows, Unix and Linux.
Along with IBM and Sun Microsystems, Oracle is a big proponent of Java and hopes to win over developers at the expense of .Net, Microsoft's competing initiative, which was launched in October.
If vendors conform to standards like XML and SOAP, applications written using .Net tools should be able to communicate over the Web with applications written in Java, Magee said. "Web services offers a lot of promise, but it's still very much in its infancy," he said. "Right now it's more of a positioning exercise."