Java will unify IBM's application development en middleware offerings, IBM officials told VNU Newswire in an interview during at the Java '97 show in London's Olympia.
Lotus Domino Server, the eSuite productivity apps as well as the newly developed Component Broker are likely to be integrated into VisualAge e-business suite, IBM's newly released Java development environment.
At the Java '97 show, IBM introduced VisualAge e-business. The suite includes VisualAge for Java, the DB/2 Universal Database as well as software from its Taligent division and its subsidiaries NetObjects and Lotus: the HTML-tool NetObjects Fusion, Lotus' Go server and BeanMachine graphical JavaBean assembly environment, and the Taligent WebRunner set of tools.
In the future, more of IBM's software development and middleware technologies will be combined into various bundling offers. "You're going to see all kinds of packaging options", said Scott Hebner, marketing manager of application development.
"Java makes that possible".
The components in the suite will also become more integrated. "Clearly, the direction is towards greater coherence", said David Gee, worldwide program director alphaWorks and Java marketing.
In the first quarter of 1998, IBM will add support for team development to VisualAge e-business. Another likely extension of the suite will be the addition of the newly announced eSuite productivity applets, and the eSuite DevPack developers environment that goes with them.
David Gee said: "BeanMachine is a drag and drop environment for beans. ESuite consists of beans. So you can add them to the palette".
ESuite will ship in the first quarter of 1998.
VisualAge e-business will also be further integrated with the Lotus Notes groupware environment. There will be tools for VisualAge e-business applications to access Notes databases.
Further integration will come with the next major revision of Notes, Domino 5. This version will support Java as a scripting language. This will allow Notes application to be developed in Java tools such as VisualAge. Other VisualAge family members, such as VisualAge for SmallTalk, already generate Notes code.
Many of the technologies currently previewed on IBM's alphaWorks Web site will also eventually end up in VisualAge e-business, said David Gee.
IBM is looking to develop things further, said Gee. One probable candidate is BeanExtender, a technology that can add new behaviour - such as security - to an existing bean by 'dipping' it. It has been previewed on alphaWorks for some months. Another technology preview is a Java applet that allows streaming video to be broadcast to a Web browser without the need to install a plug-in.
AlphaWorks is currently also previewing a JIT-compiler for AIX, OS/2 and NT, as well as a JDK 1.1 virtual machine for OS/390. An OS/ 390 JIT, to run on IBM's S/390 mainframes, is expected to be posted next year. David Gee said 250 companies are currently betatesting it, demonstrating that there is widespread interest in running Java applications on mainframes.
A key component in IBM's e-business strategy is Component Broker, a middleware that shields application developers from the complexity of having to access multiple backend systems such as CICS transaction systems or Lotus Notes databases. The technology is now being rolled out to about ten customers in an early access release, with more general availability expected gradually over the next year.
Gee said a crucial step towards the development of e-business will be the announcement of the Enterprise JavaBeans specification, expected next week at I nternet World.
After that,Gee said he expected Java to 'settle down' a bit. "The momentum in Java has been more rapid than most companies can handle. Now that we"ve filled most of the gaps, the speed of incremental upgrades will slow down to allow everybody to catch their breath".
However, there will be "one more major crank" when JDK 1.2 is introduced, he said.
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