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Borland hits 20, unveils life-cycle bundle

Borland Software Corp. cranked up the volume on its application life-cycle management (ALM) strategy last week at its annual user conference by unveiling several new offerings, including a new version of its Delphi IDE for Microsoft's .NET framework, a new model-driven runtime platform and a new integrated ALM solution for Java.

The so-called ALM strategy began following the acquisitions of Starbase and Togethersoft almost two years ago. Since those buys, Borland engineers have worked to integrate its tools and technologies with acquired products to create development environments equipped to handle all aspects of application development, from the planning and requirements-gathering stages, through development, testing and deployment -- in other words, the application life cycle.

Bill Pataky, director of product management and marketing in Borland's Java Development Solutions Group, described the latest version of Borland's enterprise Java IDE, Enterprise Studio 7 for Java, as "the total embodiment of the acquisitions and the ALM strategy that we have been pursuing." Along with the expected JBuilder IDE features, Studio 7 combines technology from several Borland products, including Togethersoft's CaliberRM (requirements management), Starbase's StarTeam (configuration management) and the OptimizeIt (performance management) software gained in the acquisition of VMGear. The package also includes Borland Enterprise Server and JDataStore.

Company officials describe the expanded product suite as a "unified development environment" (UDE), which it sees as the next step in the evolution of tools suites beyond the IDE.

"With Studio 7, the problems we've attacked are around people and processes, from requirements through pre-deployment," Pataky told eADT. "And we've done much more than simply glue these pieces together. Everything here is tightly integrated. It's all sold as one unit and one productivity solution that extends beyond the developer."

The new Java UDE is designed to deliver a single point of control for the developer, Pataky explained, giving them the ability to work in different phases of the development process simultaneously. Borland delivers that single control point through the recently released new user interface, JBuilder X. Designed for building Java Web services and Web applications, JBuilder X is also the first version of the product to run on the MacOS, Pataky noted.

For the Delphi community, the big news was Delphi 8 for the Microsoft .NET Framework. Designed to enable Delphi developers to create .NET Framework-based applications and to migrate existing Win32 Delphi applications to the .NET Framework, Delphi 8 features support for all .NET Framework classes, said Simon Thornhill, VP and GM for the .NET Solutions Group at Borland. This includes support for Microsoft's ASP.NET Web Forms and XML Web services, Windows Forms, Microsoft ADO.NET, a .NET implementation of Borland's Visual Control Library (VCL) and Borland Data Provider (BDP) for database applications. Thornhill called it "a turbocharge for Delphi."

"This opens up a much larger world for Delphi developers," Thornhill told eADT. "You can now develop for the latest and greatest Microsoft Windows .NET platform. You can tell your customers, 'I can take full advantage of the .NET framework, I can give you the benefits of managed code, all using my skills as a Delphi developer.' This is a great opportunity for developers to upgrade their Delphi investments for .NET."

Borland also launched Enterprise Core Objects (ECO), a new model-driven runtime platform for rapid application development. First introduced in C# Builder, ECO automates several steps that are manual in the Model Driven Architecture (MDA) process.

The new ECO technology provides an application framework designed to help organizations align business requirements and software capabilities, Thornhill said. Borland considers ECO to be a key component of its ALM strategy, he added.

The ALM space is about to be crowded territory. Microsoft is currently developing its own advanced modeling tool, code-named "Whitehorse." Designed to allow developers to integrate application models seamlessly into the .NET development environment through Visual Studio .NET, the new toolset is expected to ship with the Whidbey release of VS.NET sometime late next year. Compuware Corp., BEA Systems and a number of smaller vendors are also offering life-cycle management-type tools.

Meanwhile, IBM staked its own ALM claim this year with the acquisition of Rational Software. Big Blue now offers a number of life-cycle-oriented products, including IBM Rational Suite. As the creator in the 1970s of the Rational Unified Process (guidelines, templates and examples that provide a uniform set of best practices for iterative development), Rational may fairly be called a pioneer in ALM.

Held at the San Jose Convention Center, the 2003 Borland Conference, also known as BorCon, was the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based toolmaker's 14th annual user conference, and the event marked the company's 20th year of operation.

During his opening keynote address, Borland CEO Dale Fuller emphasized his company's continuing commitment to cross-platform tools development. "Our strategy is very, very simple," he said. "We're focusing on multipath, multiprocessor [and] multiplatform. Our mission at Borland is all about helping our customers -- you and your customers -- move into the future without abandoning the past."

Fuller also talked up the financial strength of the company. "We've had 14 quarters of continuous revenue growth, profitability and cash flow," he said. "This company will be around for another 20 years."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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