Rapid Application Development is back

New WebSphere Studio looks compelling

Any experienced programmer who has developed a three-tier application knows that there must be an easier way.

IBM has released WebSphere Studio 5.7 to get programmers delivering J2EE application and delivering them quickly. If you don’t program in Java or don’t have a WebSphere server, you could be excused for thinking that this product is not for you.

But this product has the three things that make you really productive as a business developer. Firstly, it has a good data dictionary that allows you to specify your record layouts, where you get the data from and how you want it formatted. Secondly, it has a simple language for business logic called Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) and finally it has a drag and drop user interface designing including form templating for high productivity.

In this tool you can be working at a relatively high level of abstraction but in the background, the server is generating JavaBeans, JSP pages, configuration files and all the bits and pieces you need for deploying web applications.

In theory, scalable J2EE applications can be designed, written and deployed without writing a single line of Java code or knowing how an application server works. I suspect reality will be a little crueler but I am convinced that writing J2EE applications will be a lot less labour-intensive.

Furthermore, with WebSphere Studio Device Developer 5.7 released on July 30, it is easier for developers to target smart phones and other wireless devices.

This IDE is a core part of the IBM System Development Platform due for release by the end of the year but it is available today. It is based on the Eclipse framework and seemed to perform well with the simple application that we played with.

In an ideal situation I would have preferred the database storage layer to be independent of the application server but for greatly improved programmer productivity the WebSphere server price of $5,000 is looking cheap. Work is underway to convince BEA to support the Server Data Objects and to drive that part of the equation into open standards but details were not confirmed at the time of writing.

Roger Oberg, the VP of marketing for IBM software, sees middleware as the primary revenue earner for IBM software in the medium term. If your company is not a WebSphere user, WebSphere Studio 5.7 is a compelling reason to become one. Furthermore, there seems to be a lot added value more coming down the track from IBM.

Reynolds, an independent software consultant in Auckland, travelled to DeveloperWorks courtesy of IBM.

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