Microsoft will announce a family of unified prototyping tools, codenamed Boston, at its fourth worldwide Developer Days conference on 19 March.
At the same time, the software giant plans to announce new versions of Visual Basic, which can now compile Active X controls, and Visual C++. It will also launch Visual Interdev, an Internet tool for creating active content for Web servers, which includes support for both Active X controls and Java.
But, Boston will take pride of place at the show. It comprises a common design environment, Developer Studio, underlying Visual C++, Fortran PowerStation, J++ and Interdev. A Visual Basic licence will also be included in the box, but the language is not integrated into Developer Studio.
A common design environment means that developers in the process of editing or debugging their C++ code, could open up a window in their J++ environment and work on both simultaneously. It also means they would not have to learn new design environments each time they used a new language.
Mike Pryke-Smith, Microsoft?s Internet tools product manager, said: ?We?re aiming towards an integrated suite of development tools. Developers often use several languages when writing an application and they need components to work together, not waste time reinventing the wheel each time. All the languages conform to COM, so it?s easy.?
He added that the long-term aim was also to provide the tools with a common development environment, but would not be drawn on timescales.
* Microsoft plans to ship Application Foundation Classes (AFCs) for Java development in the second half of the year. The AFCs provide developers with pre-written code such as buttons for building front-ends for their applications.
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