Update: Java tools effort aims to ease use, cut costs

[UPDATE] - Assorted development toolmakers and large users have banded together to create yet another standards body, the Java Tools Community (JTC), in an effort that founders hope will lead to the creation of a Java technology process that is more affordable and easier to use.

Officials said the group, which includes BEA Systems Inc., Compuware Corp., Embarcadero Technologies Inc., JetBrains Inc., Oracle Corp., Quest Software Inc., SAP AG, SAS Institute Inc., Iopsis Software, Sun Microsystems Inc., US Sprint and Verizon, is also intended to spur along Java Community Process (JCP) efforts in the area of development tools.

Notably missing on the initial JTC slate were Java tools powerhouses Borland and IBM. IBM has publicly complained about aspects of the Java Community Process since its formation by Sun, and its Eclipse tools framework initiative is seen by some observers as an alternative to tools APIs originated by rivals Sun and BEA.

''We can't speak for Borland or IBM,'' said Ted Farrell, architect and director of strategy in Oracle's Application Development Tools Division. ''The philosophy here is not as focused on the 'who' as much as the 'how many.' We already have a great mix of vendors and [user] companies. We're announcing this today to get even more people involved. The voice of the customer is very important here.''

''A community of interest can come together to find out how to do things the right way,'' added Joe Keller, vice president of marketing for Java Web services and tools at Sun.

JTC founders said they will work toward making standard Java technology APIs ''friendlier'' for tool development. As well, JTC efforts will be dedicated to improving the interoperability of Java development tools and extensions via design-oriented tools.

Though JTC co-founder Sun recently declined to join the IBM-led consortium that is building the open-source development framework, JTC officials moved to welcome members of that group into its fold. JTC and Eclipse ''are not mutually exclusive,'' said SAP representative Michael Bechauf, vice president of NetWeaver standards at SAP. SAP, like JTC founding member Oracle, is part of the Eclipse initiative, Bechauf pointed out.

Added Oracle's Farrell: ''The JCP is a standards body; Eclipse is an open-source framework for building tools.''

''Eclipse [advocates] will recognize the value of JTC over time,'' said Sun's Keller.

IBM's decision to forgo membership in JTC does not mean it opposes the new groups efforts, said Bob Sutor, director WebSphere software, IBM. He said Big Blue is asked to join many of the standards bodies formed in the Java and XML Web services communities and while all invitations receive serious consideration, IBM doesn't accept every invitation.

"We couldn't possibly do every single thing that everybody asks us to get involved with," he said. "Sometimes it's because they're going in a technical or strategic direction that is not the way we think about things, or we decide that in terms of priorities it's not what we want to put resources into."

Currently, IBM WebSphere standardization is focused on Eclipse, he said. He left the door open for Eclipse, which is moving towards independence from IBM, to independently decide to participate in JTC, which would indirectly bring IBM into the new Java tools body.


Includes reporting by Rich Seeley.

About the Authors

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

Mike Bucken is former Editor-in-Chief of Application Development Trends magazine.


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