BEA unifies software development environment

BEA Systems yesterday revealed beta versions of its latest suite of WebLogic software products, including its application server,...

BEA Systems yesterday revealed beta versions of its latest suite of WebLogic software products, including its application server, enterprise portal and integration broker technologies, at its annual eWorld conference in Orlando.

However, analysts predicted that companies would be most interested in the suite's upgraded WebLogic Workshop, since the new tool provides a unified interface for developing to any of the WebLogic products.

The first version of WebLogic Workshop, which shipped last year, was restricted to building web services. The latest version has been extended to let developers build custom applications, create portals, integrate applications and manage business processes and trading partners, said Chet Kapoor, vice president and general manager of BEA's integration group.

WebLogic Workshop has also been expanded with more controls to remove the complexity of building applications that rely on Java 2 Enterprise Edition technologies.

"This is a very substantial piece of work," said John Rymer, an analyst at Giga Information Group. Rymer added that the tool's initial version served as a proof of concept of BEA's overall design of an event-based Java development environment similar in intent to Microsoft's Visual Basic. He predicted that the new tool will have a substantial effect on developer productivity.

BEA is promoting its new WebLogic Platform as a way to converge integration and custom application development. Kapoor said the adoption of integration brokers has been limited, but he hoped WebLogic Platform 8.1, with its newly unified architecture, would make integration more mainstream by reducing the complexity, cost and time needed for such projects.

So far, BEA has made its mark as an application server supplier, vying with IBM for the top spot in market share. But BEA has struggled for recognition in application integration.

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