Sun aims Forté tool at .NET

Mere weeks before Microsoft was to unveil its widely reported Visual Studio .NET, competitor Sun Microsystems brought out an early access release of its Forté Developer 7 suite of tools. Experts say Sun won't be the only Microsoft competitor announcing tools in the weeks leading up to the big splash circling the multilanguage Visual Studio .NET debut, but after several years of heavy Java language emphasis, the fact that Sun notes the multilanguage capabilities in Forté Developer 7 may be significant.

Multilanguage debugging is supported in the release, allowing developers to bind and encapsulate native C and C++ applications and libraries as Java classes or XML-based services. Fortran support is also offered. The Native Connector Tool supports the J2EE connector architecture spec. Also new are important updates to Performance Analyzer tools that help to isolate problems and speed fine-tuning of apps using Java HotSpot virtual machine.

Said Peter Crosby, product line manager at Sun, "You don't have to rewrite your code in Java; the tool creates links between Java and native code."

Sun has determinedly focused on Java in recent years. But, admits Crosby, "There are a lot of people that will continue to use C++." The HotSpot enhancements in the toolset have merit for individuals "doing 'close-to-the-iron' apps," said Crosby. He added that other features in Forté Developer 7 give users increased portability when they need to compile programs. Now, they can compile programs more often without recompilation to run on popular platforms such as Apache, he suggested.

The lineage of Forté Developer 7 is as follows: Sun's popular Workshop tool line, after release 5, became part of Forté Developer 6. Pricing is yet to be determined. Forté Developer 7 is available as an early access release now.

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About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.