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At IBM Rational User Conference: Atlantic crossing

[Grapevine, Texas] -- After devoting a major effort to integrating with a variety of IBM Software Group offerings, IBM Rational is now devoting attention to the next release of its established software suite, albeit a suite now buttressed by the IBM WebSphere Studio toolset.

Like its competitors at Microsoft, Rational knows there can be value in a catchy code word for a newly brewing tools set; "Atlantic" is the code name for the next release of the Rational Development Platform, and it became a bubbling matter of discussion at the IBM Rational User Conference held here this week.

Updates to Rational Rose XDE, ClearCase, ClearQuest, the company’s Test Manager and other parts of Rational’s Team Unifying platform are among moves in the works, said Jeffrey Hammond, group marketing manager, IBM Rational Software. The formal release of these tools is anticipated later this year.

Changes in the works mostly revolve around the Eclipse 3.0 universal framework. Taking the place of former APIs, the Eclipse "bus" allows better interaction among Rational tools. In turn, it could provide what IBM’s Hammond describes as a “level-playing field” to outside tools, home- brewed or purchased, that can hook into Eclipse.

In store is "remoting" for ClearCase, which, according to Hammond, “is going to dramatically improve performance over WANs.” This is a distinct need as teams become more dispersed. Other enterprise hardening enhancements include large-file support and LDAP support for both ClearCase and ClearQuest. An Eclipse plug-in for RequisitePro is also on tap.

Taking Rose’s modeling capabilities and other Rational testing capabilities, and making them fully Eclipse-based is a major step, said Hammond. “The models were connected with test before,” he said, “but only the APIs we chose to expose. Now we have 100% transparency. We use the same Eclipse interfaces available to everybody.”

For Rose, which was a key product in Rational’s rise, improvements in sequence diagrams and use case subsystem support, as well as tighter connection to WebSphere Studio, are due. The link between physical code models and logical architecture models is expected to be tighter, and this could prove beneficial in a product that may have missed a few updates in the wake of the IBM-Rational merger.

Said Roger Oberg, vice president, marketing, Rational Software Products, IBM Software Group, “What we are doing in Atlantic is tightening up. In Atlantic, [models and objects] will be in the Eclipse framework, and they will leverage a common data model.”

Key enhancements due later this year for the WebSphere Studio will include support for the latest WebSphere runtime, and more so-called “J2EZ” enhancements for eased Java development. Oberg pointed to wider support for JavaServer Faces (JSF), easier database links, and a better user interface for “drag and drop” as aspects of a more RAD-like WebSphere Studio.

Meanwhile Adam Jollans, Linux strategy manager, IBM Software Group, noted that the Atlantic release will bring the whole Rational structured development methodology onto the Linux platform. “That’s important because Linux is now being used so much by professional developers,” he said.

“Linux to date has been a lot about informal individual approaches to application development. But a higher level of corporate strength engineering is needed,” said Jollans.

About the Author

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

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