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JavaOne: BEA gets partners for Workshop tools

BEA Systems has announced support from about a dozen software vendors for Weblogic Workshop, its Java development framework released in beta last month.

Borland Software, Flamenco Networks, TogetherSoft and Palm are among the vendors that have pledged to make their products interoperate with Workshop.

Previously known by its code name, Cajun, the final version of Workshop is expected to ship mid-2002, BEA has said.

Seen by some as a Java equivalent to Microsoft's Visual Basic tools, Workshop aims to let developers with minimal Java training take part in building complex Java-based enterprise applications. It does this by using visual controls that let developers invoke blocks of complex Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) code that have been prewritten by more experienced programmers. The overall goal is to develop applications more quickly.

Support from a tools vendor such as Borland means a developer will be able to create a basic application using Workshop and then export it to Borland's JBuilder tool, where an experienced J2EE developer can add more complex code. The application could then be imported back into Workshop for further coding, said Eric Stahl, a senior product manager at BEA.

"The strategy of driving this technology into all the tools vendors is under way," he said.

Although Workshop was largely well received at its unveiling last month, some users said they would be reluctant to use the tools until BEA gains approval for new Java standards that define how third-party products interoperate with it.

Such standards are not required for interoperability but could make it easier for third-party vendors to achieve and, at the same time help BEA drive momentum for its product.

BEA also announced that a Java Specification Request (JSR) for Workshop has been submitted to the Java Community Process, a multivendor group set up by Sun Microsystems that defines new Java standards.

JSR number 175 was submitted by Java creator Sun - apparently on behalf of BEA - and defines "a metadata facility for the Java programming language". If approved, the specification should make it easier for developers to "configure Java programs in a simple and uniform way in the Java code itself", BEA said.

Stahl declined to speculate on when the request will be approved. BEA expects at least three JSRs in all to be submitted for Workshop, covering various aspects of the product's functionality, he said. BEA hopes that rival application vendors will adhere to the standards, which would allow a customer to develop a Java application in Workshop and then run it on an application server from, for example, Oracle.
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