SW DEVELOPMENT: The Changing Toolkits

Among the many casualties of the Net age are traditional
toolkits. Today’s development is fast and furious, the apps Web-savvy, the
solutions prefixed with an e, and the language is Java.

Like ICE today, IDE was the buzzword for the late-1980s
developer. The “integrated development environment”, first introduced
in Borland’s Turbo Pascal, was radical. Instead of separate “make”,
“link” and “compile” command-line operations, following lots
of editing in arcane DOS editors such as Norton Editor and Brief, programmers
suddenly had a single package in which they edited, compiled, debugged and
created executables.

What a lot of change the development community has seen in 10
years. Rapid application development (RAD), object-oriented code, reusable
modules, full-life-cycle CASE tools, FreeBSD and OpenSource, community
development and Linux. You may not have heard much about this area if you’re
not right inside it, but it’s been moving as fast as the rest of IT.
Accelerated, in recent years, by the Internet, which has created a mass-market,
end-user genre: HTML and related tools.

The traditional development tools of the 1990s are giving way
to a new genre in the Internet age. As strategic business initiatives are turned
into rapidly-executed Web strategies, the demand for application development and
deployment software tools is increasing sharply. The focus of development tool
vendors is shifting from building tools for creating and deploying Windows-based
native apps to tools for the enterprise. And that translates into integrated
toolkits for e-applications.

The development-tools segment of the software market is
growing sharply. But the number of players in it is narrowing, thanks to mergers
and acquisitions. Here, you find the big names: Microsoft, IBM, Sun, Oracle; and
some smaller ones like Borland, Rational Software and Fujitsu. IDC reports that
worldwide revenue growth in this market will average nearly 20% from $36.5
billion in 1999 to $90.2 billion in 2004. The Indian application development
tools market is also being driven by the Net, with Internet tools having the
highest growth of over 129% each year, says IDC.

As corporates rapidly increase spending on IT, enterprises
are deploying distributed, multi-tier, component-based architectures for e-biz
implementation. Component-based, cross-platform development environments that
can deliver end solutions for e-biz are becoming the norm for toolkit
manufacturers. This is pushing Java, EJB, Perl and CORBA into mainstream
development. Most of the newer products are RAD tools with Java or CORBA as the

The future of business is about wireless and mobility, with
the Internet at the core. Appliances and mobile devices will connect to your
network: cellphones, pagers, palmtops. The mobile device will become a hub. This
will generate the need to have more native apps on those mobile devices. WAP is
at the helm of mobile e-commerce, and its roots lie in XML. This will need more
offerings from the vendors for the developers in this sub-segment.

In operating environments, Linux is the OS to watch.
Developers are still relatively few, for Linux has not yet become a mainstream
OS–but it’s a step away. IDC expects strong growth, especially in Linux apps
development and deployment, with average annual growth of almost 183%. But Linux’s
revenues will remain dwarfed by 32-bit Windows, says IDC, partly because the OS
is essentially free, forming the core for apps and services.

Targeting this high-growth market is Borland, with its
project Kylix–the porting of Delphi and C++ Builder to Linux, which will let
developers create native Linux apps in Delphi/C++ Builder as well as easily move
apps back and forth between Linux and Windows. With the acceptability of Linux
increasing as a desktop OS, more and more new developers will take up Linux, as
the need for native apps on Linux will increase.

Tools that are used to develop any kind of Web-related apps,
including security products, developing and deploying complete e-solutions for
the enterprises, Internet access software, and server and client-side software,
are going to witness maximum growth. Software configuration management and
database administration tool vendors will receive a big boost from e-biz as they
provide tools to ensure quality, scalability and changeability of e-biz
applications throughout their entire life cycle.

The worldwide market for application life-cycle management
tools is also growing rapidly, from $5 billion in 1999 to an expected $9 billion
market by 2004. Application life-cycle management products are defined as tools
that support the process of software application development and deployment.
E-com is becoming a major boost factor for this market too.


Tools with Java at the base are growing the quickest.
Microsoft’s graphical development environments–Visual C++, Visual J++ and
Visual Basic–can create cross-platform Java applications and applets. Oracle
Designer, Oracle Developer and JDeveloper 3 are Java-based RAD environments for
creating Web-based, client-server apps, building e-biz solutions, and an
integrated development environment for designing and deploying component-based
Java apps, respectively.

Sybase’s PowerJ Enterprise is an enterprise-level Java
development environment. Power++ is a RAD tool that combines a visual,
component-based client-server development environment with C++. Borland has a number of products including VisiBroker, an engine for developing e-biz
apps based on CORBA, Jbuilder for building pure Java applications, and Delphi, a
RAD tool for Windows. IBM’s VisualAge for Java is a RAD environment for Java.
Iona’s ORBIX is a full and complete implementation of the Object Management
Group’s CORBA to develop distributed applications using object-oriented
client-server technology. Symantec’s Visual Cafe is a family of RAD
environments for Java. Sun’s Visual WorkShop C++ is an integrated environment
for C++ development on Solaris. I-Logic’s Rhapsody is an object-oriented
analysis, design and implementation environment for embedded systems developers.

Java’s big attraction is its cross-platform nature.
Cross-platform development software is a quickly emerging segment, which will
witness more players joining in. Growth in the application development and
deployment software segment will revolve around Web-centric software with e-biz
and m-commerce tools.

Taru Agarwal

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