A new report from analyst Butler Group has suggested that model driven architecture (MDA) is the best hope for increased productivity in enterprise development.
The report focused on tools used for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and Microsoft .Net, where most new development is taking place.
"The concept of modelling is extremely well accepted in development these days, but it only goes so far and does not reflect what happens in the end," report author Teresa Jones told vnunet.com.
MDA uses a model created with Universal Modelling Language to generate platform-independent then platform-specific models and executable code.
"Making enhancements - evolving and growing the application - is where you are going to get the real productivity [from MDA]," said Jones.
Butler Group rated three companies that use MDA as outperforming the industry as a whole: Compuware with OptimalJ, IBM with Rational Rapid Developer, and Interactive Objects with ArcStyler.
Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net 2003 and products from Borland, Oracle and Computer Associates, whose products lacked integrated MDA, were rated lower.
Jones also said that MDA helped to address the complexities of J2EE and .Net.
Most MDA had so far been used for J2EE, but Microsoft is moving towards MDA with its recent acquisition of key developers from Rational.
J2EE had established a dominant position in enterprise development partly because it could be deployed across multiple operating environments, according to the report.
But it added: "Although widely deployed, Microsoft's .Net strategy has yet to gain widespread acceptance in enterprise-class development, and the company faces an uphill struggle in this sector."
Other report findings included a trend towards development based on a service oriented architecture, which MDA supports, and the strengthening role of web services.
But management of the overall project lifecycle is still a major cause of failure, with the report calling for technologists to be "more business savvy".
"There are still so many stories going round of project failure. More than half fail in some way," said Jones, adding that MDA could help here too.
"Speed of development is important. If you do a development quickly you can get a quicker answer as to whether it is right and then make changes as needed."
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