Borland Simplifies Modeling in New ALM App

Borland has added new capabilities to its open source application lifecycle management (ALM) solution. The Together 2007 product has been enhanced to help the software development teams -- including analysts, architects and developers -- better deal with modeling complexities.

To that end, Together 2007 supports domain-specific languages (DSLs), which are programming languages designed for specific tasks. The product comes with a new DSL Toolkit that helps project teams create notations representing application architectures and business processes within the enterprise.

The Toolkit, according to Marc Brown, vice president of product marketing at Borland Software helps enterprises leverage DSLs within their businesses, and then more effectively visualize the various aspects that they need to model.

The reason to do modeling is that it can help facilitate organizational agility in managing an application lifecycle. However, a prime road block for business and IT users when it comes to modeling is the Unified Modeling Language (UML) itself, which is "somewhat of a complex discipline," Brown said.

Borland's Together 2007 product aims to simplify modeling for users, especially when it come to the UML, explained Richard Gronback, coleader of the Eclipse Modeling Project and chief scientist at Borland.

"The UML is a very large and complex specification," Gronback said. "There is a lot of upfront time, energy and expense spent on educating people on how to use the UML so they can model their domain. The barrier for entry with UML tools is that the tools are necessarily complex because the underlying specification is complex. DSLs are an approach to modeling that lets you start with something very small and conceptually very pure in relation to the UML. So it's much easier to get started modeling your domain if you start with something that itself is very simple."

The domain represents the elements that comprise the business, and, as you create a domain model, you are really specifying a DSL, Gronback explained.

The new DSL capability adds to the open ALM approach that Borland declared for its Together product at the beginning of this year.

"We're going to focus on the ALM space but we're going to do it a little differently than some other players such as a Microsoft or IBM, which have a very broad stack but they are somewhat biased toward their own platforms," Brown said. "Since Borland is somewhat platform neutral, we don't have a platform we are trying to promote."

As an open source solution, Borland's ALM doesn't compel organizations to make "rip and replace" decisions, Brown said.

Borland, which is well known as a provider of integrated development environments, has made a transition to being more of an ALM-centric business over the last three to five years, Brown said.

"Borland went through a series of acquisitions over the last several years and acquired a number of technologies to provide fairly broad coverage across the lifecycle," he explained. "We now have coverage for various PPM-related activities; we have technologies and processes to better support people who are doing requirements management or requirements definition. We have a whole suite of tools now to support quality management activities -- that was really through our Segue acquisition last year. And then we've got technologies for change and configuration management. And last but not least, we've got technologies around the model-driven development space, and the modeling space in general, and that's our Together product line."

Together, with its DSL Tookit, is currently available. Other Together product highlights include .NET support with C# code generation, visual brainstorming notation, extended queries and reporting via Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor, Enterprise Group, at 1105 Media Inc.