IBM’s Rational has expanded its application development platform to introduce role-based tools incorporating features from Rational products like XDE, maintaining uncertainty over XDE’s continued evolution as a separate product. Such a strategy has risks attached however, and IBM must be careful not to alienate parts of its customer base…
The next version of IBM’s Software Development Platform, codenamed Atlantic and due by the end of this year, introduces design and development tool IBM Rational Software Architect along with IBM Rational Software Modeler for modeling and design in Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.0.
Both the architect and modeler products feature tooling from IBM Rational’s two-year-old eXtended Development Environment (XDE) UML suite, which has now been re-implemented on the Eclipse 3.0 open source framework.
Architect and modeler also feature functionality from WebSphere Application Developer (WSAD) and Rational’s PurifyPlus.
IBM Rational yesterday insisted it remains committed to existing modeling tools, namely XDE and Rational Rose, by providing continued enhancements and support, despite having put XDE’s modeling capabilities inside architect and modeler.
IBM Rational vice president of marketing Roger Oberg told ComputerWire that XDE, along with WSAD and PurifyPlus, would continue as separate products.
Despite such assurances, though, news of an updated XDE was notably missing from yesterday’s Atlantic announcement, and there are no plans at present for a major update to XDE, according to Mr Oberg. Last month ComputerWire broke the story of IBM Rational’s plan to merge XDE functionality with WSAD in Atlantic.
Additionally, IBM Rational is providing licensing incentives to customers to adopt the newer products. Those using XDE for Java can move to Rational Software Modeler while customers on WSAD and XDE can move to Rational Software Architect.
We are going to continue to enhance products, and entitle [customers] pretty generously to move to this set of new offerings if it makes sense to them, Mr Oberg said.
IBM Rational appears to be treading a thin line with XDE. By putting XDE functionality in IBM Rational Software Architect along with IBM Rational Software Modeler, IBM is continuing a growing trend of companies providing tools that fit around developers’ day-to-day working activities, instead of specifying an entire suite dedicated to just one activity, like modeling for example.
While role-based functionality is the vision, XDE has a large user base that will be unable to switch overnight to IBM Rational’s new products, and which IBM Rational will be unwilling to lose to competitors like Borland Software during the change over. Borland plans roles-based features in its own forthcoming tools.
XDE also has political ramifications for IBM Rational. XDE is IBM Rational’s UML modeling environment for Microsoft’s Visual Studio.NET, yet Rational’s relationship with Microsoft has been in question since Java-centric IBM bought Rational in 2002. IBM Rational yesterday highlighted continued support for Microsoft in Atlantic, noting the addition of support for the Visual Basic scripting language in Atlantic’s functional tester.
IBM Rational, meanwhile, is using Atlantic to broaden use of its tools among business managers and non-core developers. New to the lifecycle management portfolio are IBM Rational Portfolio Manager, to plan and manage IT projects, and IBM Rational Manual Tester manual testing tool for distributed teams.
Also added is support for Java Server Faces (JSF) and Service Data Objects (SDO), built with BEA Systems, which simplify development for engineers and line-of-business programmers who are unused to programming at a complex Java API level.