New XML Developer Tools from IBM’s alphaWorks

IBM today added three arrows to its Emerging Technology Toolkit (ETTK) quiver in the form of new software aimed at developers using emerging XML standards—such as XHTML, XForms and VoiceXML—to build Web applications that tie into service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

The ETTK is a collection of emerging technologies from IBM’s software development and research labs, available on Big Blue’s alphaWorks emerging technology portal ( The ETTK additions include two tools—the new Compound XML Document Editor and the new XML Forms Generator—and a set of new language extensions to Java 1.4 called XML Enhancements for Java.

The Compound XML Document Editor is designed to help developers create, edit and manage Web applications and XML documents that combine existing and emerging XML standards, without extensive hand coding. The new XML Forms Generator provides a tool for creating XML forms that can tie into business processes using Web services, building on such standards as Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Java Server Page (JSP) response templates. Both tools are plug-ins to the open-source Eclipse development environment.

The XML Enhancements for Java provide support for XML, XML Schema and XPath in Java. By integrating XML and Java, the enhancements simplify the development of XML-based applications, allowing developers to reuse existing Java libraries when developing XML code, and vice versa.

IBM recently launched a new alphaWorks Web site and introduced new forums, technical articles and blogs to give developers more tools and information about emerging trends in technology. The company is also providing XML developers with some new “skill-building resources” on the developerWorks site. One example is a new developerWorks XML column, which features guest columnists and IBM technical experts. The first column, written by “XML Bible” author Elliotte Rusty Harold, discusses how to manage XML data effectively.

Started in 1996, alphaWorks is IBM’s emerging technology showcase, and one of the first developer support sites. A component of IBM’s developerWorks, alphaWorks is where IBM publishes early implementations of technologies and research prototypes primarily for early adopters, explains Marc Goubert, manager of IBM’s alphaWorks group.

“We do have a niche audience,” he says, “basically developers, researchers, academics and interested parties who want to look at and evaluate emerging technologies.”

The first IBM open-source license was published on alphaWorks, Goubert says (for the JIKES Java compiler). The XML Parser for Java, which became the Xerces common Apache parsing tool, evolved from an alphaWorks technology. And so did the base functionality of IBM’s WebSphere application server; the J2EE Servlet engine was made available on alphaWorks in its early form, and grew up to become market-leading middleware. AlphaWorks has contributed technologies to both Linux and Eclipse.

Approximately 40 percent of the projects published on alphaWorks are eventually incorporated into or become stand-alone IBM products, Goubert says.

The ETTK is available now on the alphaWorks site. For more information about IBM alphaWorks and the Emerging Technology Toolkit, visit To learn more about IBM developerWorks and new XML skill-building resources, visit

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].