IBM plans to simplify Java

IBM this quarter will release a rapid application development (RAD) tool that will allow users to create applications by visually stitching together Java applets and other components.

Reflecting the stepped-up pace of the Java market's growth, IBM this quarter will release a rapid application development (RAD) tool that will allow users to create applications by visually stitching together Java applets and other components.

Big Blue last week at PC Expo in New York demonstrated the RAD tool, code-named Jumping Beans, which allows users to build applications by linking Java objects that adhere to the Java Beans specification.

The Java Beans APIs, unveiled last month at the Java One conference in San Francisco, will provide a standard component model for Java and will define interactions between Java components and other component models. IBM is an early supporter of the Java Beans specification, which is due by year's end.

Jumping Beans facilitates the creation of container applications for Java applets and allows a set of Java applets to work co-operatively within the container, according to Gennaro Cuomo, manager of advanced Internet technology in the IBM software solutions division.

"The market for Java RAD tools is going to explode," says Evan Quinn, an analyst with International Data, in Framingham, Massachusetts. "As the infrastructure for building Web applications with Java or C++ gets developed -- and it's happening much faster than it did in the client/server environment -- you'll start to see the need for RAD tools that work with Java and ActiveX components and perhaps CORBA objects.

Individuals can download Jumping Beans for free, but IBM will charge businesses for the tool.

Jumping Beans will also ship with Domino, the Lotus Notes Web server rolled out at the show.

IBM's RAD tool is slated for a mid-July release, according to a source close to the project.

To spur Java and related technologies, IBM will develop hundreds of Java components, Cuomo says.

A subsequent version of Jumping Beans will support both client- and server-side application development, presenting users with either a blank Web page or graphical representations of the servers on which they can deploy Java applications.

The Java RAD tool will work with Arabica, IBM's Java Beans-compliant component framework based on OpenDoc.

IBM also intends to extend the cross-platform reach of Java Beans with a bridge that represents Java Beans components as OpenDoc components, Cuomo says. The bridge, which comes in the form of an ActiveX control, will allow Jumping Beans users to construct applications with components written for operating systems that support OpenDoc, including OS/2, MacOS, 32-bit Windows, and AIX. This ActiveX bridge will also ship with Lotus SmartSuite 97 next year.

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