The application server giant began its annual eWorld conference on 3 March, unveiling details of the forthcoming BEA WebLogic 8.1, the next incarnation of the company's application server platform and the Dev2Dev support network for Bea developers.
Commenting on Dev2Dev, John Kiger, director of product marketing at BEA said, "For a modest annual fee we are providing Bea developers with premium technical support five days a week, trial software and a quarterly CD-ROM."
The new WebLogic server is expected to be released in the summer. Kiger said the new version promises to lower the bar of Java development by allowing developers to use off-the shelf Java components rather than master the complexity of Enterprise Java beans programming.
"We are providing a unified development environment," said Kiger. The tools within WebLogic 8.1 would allow developers to build general purpose applications based on the Java 2.0 Enterprise Edition specification, he said.
"In many organisations, only 10% of developers have the necessary skills needed to build J2EE applications," Kiger explained. "We are providing a development environment in WebLogic 8.1 so that developers do not have to understand the J2EE architecture."
One way this is being achieved is through a relationship with software component marketplace Component Source.
Sam Patterson, chief executive officer of Component Source, said his company was building a marketplace for third-party WebLogic components. Patterson said the marketplace had 400 components from 37 suppliers. "We are seeing the biggest demand for charting components."
While the BEA strategy should lower the bar for developing J2EE applications, Ovum analyst Gary Barnett was not convinced the strategy was sustainable.
"The strategy won't make a massive difference to Java development," said Barnett. The risk for any user considering Bea development tools was that BEA was moving beyond its traditional competency of providing Java infrastructure, he noted.