BEA Systems Inc is partnering with re-usable software component specialist ComponentSource Inc to increase the number of developers building for its WebLogic platform, and increase the supply of Java Web services.
The alliance will see ComponentSource host two online Galleries filled with Java components, tools and services for developers. The Galleries will contain 300 Java-based components at launch, ComponentSource said.
The Galleries’ purpose is to provide a one-stop shop of information and resources for independent software vendors (ISVs) targeting the WebLogic Application Server and WebLogic Workshop development environment. ComponentSource will also dedicate a section of its online public market place to components for BEA’s platform.
BEA’s BEA vice president of developer relations Scott Fallon predicted the galleries would grow to include more than 600 components during the next year.
San Jose, California-based BEA’s alliance with ComponentSource is the company’s latest attempt to consolidate the presence of its WebLogic application server and Workshop among the Java developers. The application server is growing while Workshop – launched in July – is still gaining traction among early adopters.
BEA’s own efforts to grow its developer community around this products have met with mixed success. Last December company former chief executive Bill Coleman set BEA a goal of one million developers for its dev2dev developer community by end of this year.
This summer, though, BEA admitted it has fallen far short because of the poor economy with just 480,000 developers.
On Friday BEA claimed the number of dev2dev developers now runs to more than half a million, but this is still far short of online developers services such as Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp’s Developer Network.
BEA’s campaign to win backing among developers is crucial to the company’s overall platform message. The company has extended its head-to-head fight with its number-one Java rival IBM over application servers to include Java development environments and enterprise application integration (EAI).
IBM’s devWorks developer web site numbers more than 2.6 million individuals while IBM took steps to increase its appeal in application life-cycle management for its WebSphere IDE on Friday, announcing its $2.1bn acquisition of Lexington, Massachusetts-based-based Rational Software Corp.
IBM, meanwhile, is attempting to extend its WebSphere IDE by encouraging ISVs to build plug-ins via Eclipse.
Atlanta, Georgia-based ComponentSource is the key component in BEA’s partnership. The company already brings to market more than 900 independent software vendors (ISVs) offering 10,000 re-usable software components. Re-usable software components help streamline development of applications and Web services by offering pre-packaged discreet functionality and reducing the amount of hand coding.
Aside from offering hosted services, BEA and ComponentSource will jointly promote WebLogic among ISVs previously unsure or too cautious to move. Fallon said the partnership is designed to attract ISVs instead of buy developers for dev2dev.
I’m not trying to buy access to developers. I’m trying to buy access to their 900 ISVs so we can evangelize to them. That’s the piece to the deal we want, he said.
BEA believes ISVs will be drawn to WebLogic Workshop because of features designed to simplify development of Web services. Workshop features BEA’s controls, which bring drag-and-drop capabilities to Java programming – a feature lacking in most Java IDEs. BEA will flag-up controls and hopes to stimulate development of Java-based components that use controls through the Workshop Gallery.
ComponentSource CEO Sam Patterson said controls could help increase the general supply of Java-based components. A ComponentSource survey of 150,000 developers last year discovered just 14% prepared to use Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs) in Web services compared to 79% targeting Microsoft’s .NET. Patterson said Friday those numbers have not changed.
Instead, Patterson said that controls could help to tip the balance in Java’s favor, by simplifying development of Web services. Once we get critical mass, components will contain most of the business functionality, making the decision of moving to Java easier. A developer will say ‘all I have to do is learn Java’, Patterson said.
Another stumbling block in supply of Java components has been failure by the industry to protect component authors’ intellectual property (IP). Unlike their Visual Basic and C/C++ peers, there are no widely used or established mechanisms to prevent downloaded components from being re-used or copied at financial loss to an author.
Fallon said BEA is working with ComponentSource to tackle IP protection, but that he had nothing to announce.