At the Application Development 2000 show in London, last month, development tools companies Aonix and Rational Software unveiled plans to produce online services for software developers.
In its Software Through Pictures range, Aonix produces software modelling tools which allow companies to graphically design their applications, and then generates some parts of the program code from that design.
Aonix has now rolled out the Architecture Component Development (ACD) technology, which enables developers to generate software by entering information about the application into pre-designed templates.
Paul Harris, technical manager for Aonix, believes that software developers can generate up to 70% of an application's code by using the ACD model. He says the company is hoping to launch a hosted service offering online code generation.
"We think that if we can integrate the mechanisms into a portal concept and people send their models in, we could send them some code back," Harris says. "And we will send them back a list of the flaws in their model."
This would also enable Aonix to offer hosted ACD services for users of Object Management Group's Unified Modelling Language (UML)-based products from Rational Software and Select (now part of Princeton Softech). There are already versions of the ACD technology available for installation on client machines running these rival products.
Rational Software's online service has come under the guise of a separate business called Catapulse.com. The company was founded in October 1999 by Rational founders Paul Levy and Mike Devlin, although they, along with the 23 staff at Catapulse's California offices, have been very cagey to date about strategic directions.
Iain Gavin, UK marketing manager at Rational, revealed at the show that the service will provide companies with the ability to manage and store all aspects of their application development projects online, making use of Rational's tool on a hosted basis. He says the service will be particularly useful for large teams.
Catapulse will use Rational's development tools and network management services and a server farm from Loudcloud, the company started by Netscape founder Marc Andreessen.
Outlining the reasons for creating a separate company to Rational, Gavin says, "We have a lot of cash. If we said to Wall Street analysts that we will invest $50m in, say, Rational Developer.com, they would have slated it. This way it firewalls us."
Rational invested $50m in the company in February, while venture capital company Benchmark put in $25m.
Catapulse will also include a software development portal, including a chatroom and software development links. The service will probably use the Rational Clearcase version control technology, with an extension called Multibase, that will cater for software development by large, distributed teams.
Expect to hear more about this project from the Rational User Conference in Philadelphia in August.