Oracle readies major tool upgrade

Oracle is planning a major upgrade to its Designer 2000 and Developer 2000 tools aimed at making Java and three-tier application development easier, company officials confirmed last week.

But although Version 2.0 of the Designer 2000 modeling tool and Developer 2000 development environment, set for release at year's end, will entice Web and traditional client/server programmers, it will have limited appeal outside of Oracle shops, analysts say.

Planned enhancements to Developer 2000 and Designer 2000 include Java application generation, distributed debugging, and the first signs of Oracle's Sedona object project, officials say.

"Designer will have a model that can [generate] code that works on a classic client/server system or creates Java," says Peter Kastner, analyst with Aberdeen Group, in Boston. "Even corporate developers should be concerned with this. Java is an immature language that lacks features, why not let Oracle make all of this work?"

Version 2.0's distributed debugger will help developers using the tool's partitioning feature. The debugger steps through code running on the client, but it also follows when a procedure is executed on the server and continues debugging there, says Steve Ehrlich, Oracle's director of tools product marketing.

But Oracle must stabilise its debugging environment first to make this feature effective, an analyst says.

"The debugging environment is buggy to begin with and difficult to deal with," says Daryl Plummer, research director at Gartner Group, in Stamford, Connecticut.

The first pieces of Oracle's Sedona will appear in Designer 2000 and Developer 2000 2.0, Ehrlich says. The tools' object browser, called Object Navigator, will be improved so developers can drag and drop stored procedure objects to and from the client, server, or the navigator. The improvements will encourage object reuse, Kastner says.

Yet not all of 2.0's enhancements will mean much to non-Oracle developers, because the tools are optimised for Oracle databases, observers say.

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