Re-Usable Code Issues Tackled

At the annual meeting of its user group this week in Philadelphia, Rational Software announced a tools initiative and related specification to enable developers to reuse software programming assets.

"The thought is rather than starting over with every single application, let's give people a better place to start," said Eric Schurr, senior vice president of marketing at Cupertino, California-based Rational Software.

Schurr explained that the initiative is designed to help large developer shops speed the building of applications by reusing common software assets, or building blocks, including architecture, business model, design model, code fragments, requirements, test plan, and test script.

Users can build applications based on the assets, then tune the program to a company's particular needs. A developer building a business-to-business application, for instance, can begin with some or all of the assets, which are proven to work, and then add in functionality that a particular company needs.

Rational will propose parts of the Reusable Asset Specification for adoption as a standard by Needham, Mass.-based OMG (Object Management Group). OMG is the organization that develops and maintains the UML (Unified Modeling Language), a collection of best engineering practices that have proven successful in the modeling of large systems.

"We are creating the standards, but we believe that the assets need to come from the people who actually made the applications," Schurr added.

Rational will provide the tools, known as e-development Accelerators, to enable developers to take advantage of the specification.

Sam Patterson, the CEO of ComponentSource, in Marietta, Ga. said that the benefits of reusing components include faster development, increased software quality, and cost-savings.

ComponentSource is a provider of software components, charged with ensuring that the commercial-grade components are described accurately within the Reusable Asset Specification initiative.

Because developers can either reuse or buy components that already exist, the costs associated with building applications are largely eliminated. Further, companies don't have to revisit the non-technical side of software development, such as business processes and process flow between components in a framework.

"What we need is a way of describing these things so that large enterprises with Java developers and Windows developers can find and reuse components, and it doesn't matter which platform the components were written for, or what the back end is," ComponentSource's Patterson said.

Other companies participating in the Reusable Asset Specification include Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., Objectools.com Ltd., Flashline.com Inc., and IntellectMarket.

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