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Enterprise Development - Beyond the Java IDE, by Joe Menard

Are you part of a small team that's building e-business systems in one- to three-month cycles, creating and reusing enterprise business components while integrating disparate platforms?

Are you wondering if the long-heralded era of component-based application assembly is going to arrive within your lifetime? Are you waiting for the day when you can select from a wide array of prefabricated, generalized, "certified compatible" e-biz and e-com components?

Does your vision of the perfect enterprise development environment extend beyond your current Java IDE? Are you tired of Java IDEs that don't support important Java standards, UML or object/relational mapping, or don't integrate well with other Web tools?

Does your IT organization support a mixed environment of application servers from iPlanet, IBM, BEA and others while eschewing standardization on any one of them in the near future?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you reflect today's professional Java developer, based on our latest round of research with over 100 enterprise Java developers.

Some of the main points from our research:

  • Tools integration remains the main sticking point for Java developers. They're either poorly integrated or the tool suites lack best-of-breed point solutions.
  • Developers want IDEs that stay in tight step with Sun's J2EE technical standard, including JSP support.
  • Enterprise shops want complementary integration between XML and Java.
  • Everyone's building reusable object- or component-based frameworks. Many say that's the "strategic direction" their application architectures need to take to go forward.
  • There's a growing trend to capture business requirements in UML models early in the development life cycle. Developers want richer, easier and better integrated UML modeling facilities.
  • Most shops are targeting multiple application servers, databases and operating systems - from the S/390 on down to Windows NT/2000.
  • Most shops are targeting multiple SQL databases. Developers want richer and easier object-relational component-based mapping tools.
Given this feedback, it's clear that the challenges faced by enterprise developers today overtax the capabilities of even the best Java IDEs. What's needed is a new approach to enterprise development, something beyond the traditional Java IDE that integrates best-of-breed life-cycle tools, Web technologies and Java application servers - a comprehensive, integrated system that spans UI development to database persistence.

Over the past six months WebGain has acquired, licensed and integrated key development technologies as part of our flagship product, WebGain Studio. Developers should spend their time building applications, not evaluating, integrating and testing tools. A solution is needed that integrates best-of-breed technologies and works seamlessly with existing Web standards, databases, OS platforms and Java application servers, and that includes integrated modeling.

To develop EJBs efficiently, fast and easy UML modeling is evolving as a requirement. The integration between the Java and UML environments is crucial to ensure that the code and models are always synchronized.

The solution should also include an integrated object-relational mapping technology that eliminates tedious manual coding associated with the mapping of objects to relational databases, and an integrated HTML and JSP environment to streamline the development of attractive, customized interfaces to end users.

According to our research, these solutions are what Java developers want. What enterprises need goes beyond that to include simple application assembly so the power of Java can be used by non-Java programmers and business analysts. This addresses both time-to-market considerations and a shortage of skilled Java resources. New application assembly technology recently acquired by WebGain will soon make that possibility a reality.

Given all this, what choices does a Java developer have to create that application in a month? They go well beyond the IDE...to integrated suites that allow easier development from the browser to the database, that allow application modeling and that ultimately allow simple and easy application assembly on multiple application servers. At WebGain we're close to being there.

Author Bio
Joe Menard, CEO of WebGain Inc., has 20 years' experience in general management, marketing, sales and product development. He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Babson College. He can be contacted at: [email protected].


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