Heard it through the Grapevine - an IBM Rational conference preview

In July, customers will gather at IBM's annual developer conference in Grapevine, Texas, where the fuller integration of Rational products into the IBM world will be a prime topic.

Speakers on hand will include IBM Fellow Grady Booch, who will celebrate Rational's 50th birthday (a little ahead of time); ISV & Developer Relations General Manager Buell Duncan, who will highlight training, code and those tools newly available at IBM's developerWorks site; and Digital Domain CEO Scott Ross, who will explain how IBM Rational tools helped to create earth-shattering effects for movies such as "The Day After Tomorrow."

Modeling, methods and mentoring will be part of the mix at an event that actually combines the former developerWorks Live! Technical Conference with the former Rational Software Development User Conference.

The July conference comes on the heels of BEAWorld, CAWorld, JavaOne and Microsoft's TechEd. As Rational becomes more a part of IBM, viewers see its application development life-cycle toolset as an increasingly competitive weapon in the enterprise vs. the tremendously popular Microsoft Visual Studio toolset. IBM Rational tools are used by ISVs as well, not to mention the company's powerful services arm. Notably, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System, described at this year's TechEd, takes a few pages out of the Rational playbook by offering more life-cycle support than in the past.

The Eclipse development framework will be covered in several technical sessions. It may be too soon to count Eclipse a success as an industry standard, but at IBM, the framework is being used increasingly to link software tools and components.

As Rational has become more a part of IBM, Eclipse has been a common theme, the firm's Mike Devlin told ADT in a recent interview. He noted that inside IBM, the IBM Lotus Workplace rich client platform was assembled quickly using Eclipse tools to include DB2, WebSphere and other diverse IBM technologies.

"Our products are now very well integrated with the WebSphere family," said Devlin. "We did it very much based on standards. It works just as well if customers don't have the complete IBM stack.

"At the user conference, people will see a completion of the picture," added Devlin, whose troops have been working at integrating all tools into the Eclipse framework. He noted that integration with Tivoli systems management capabilities followed integration with WebSphere on the Rational "to do" list. "Now you can have functional test integrated with systems management capabilities," he said.

When Rational was an independent company, it was in quite a different position relative to Microsoft. Rational Rose was once "in the box" that delivered Visual Studio to developers. When Microsoft rolled out Visual Studio 2005 Team System, such partners as Borland, Compuware and Telelogic were on hand to endorse the suite, pledging to write to Microsoft's APIs so that modeling tools, testing tools and development tools would work in concert. Not so Rational.

We asked Devlin how the relationship with Microsoft was progressing. He replied that some things clearly had changed, but that some partnering programs were continuing as in the past.

"We are a VSIP [Visual Studio Industry Partner]," said Devlin. "Some of the joint marketing efforts have declined a bit [since the merger with IBM], but we will support the next release of Visual Studio in all of the key server releases. People should remember that our tools need to track not just Visual Studio, but also [the Microsoft] servers." And that, he said, is continuing.

For IBM Rational, the theme in Grapevine, Texas, remains the same as in recent years. The products are said to provide an integrated development environment in which software quality is improved, projects are predictable and processes are repeatable.

About the Author

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

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