Borland bulks up JBuilder

Borland Software Corp. on Tuesday pried the lid off JBuilder X, the latest incarnation of its Java development environment, with feature improvements designed to increase developer productivity.

In what officials referred to as the most significant upgrade since JBuilder 6, the company enhanced four areas: Web application development, Web services, J2EE deployment and productivity and usability.

When it comes to Web applications, Borland armed the tools to take advantage of functions within individual application servers, such as the redundancy and high availability built into BEA Systems Inc.’s WebLogic.

“We’re not proprietary, we’re all about standards, we’re all about cross-platform,” said Bill Pataky, director of product management and marketing for Borland Java solutions.

Borland also added support for the open source JBoss application server; JBoss is not part of the JCP, but Borland developers frequently use JBoss as a development environment and then turn to other app servers for deployment.

Enhancing the Web services capabilities of JBuilder, Borland extended the visual designer so that developers can now drag and drop EJBs or other Java classes into the designer as a method of exposing a particular component as a Web service.

Jackie Luu, product manager for Borland Java solutions, said that JBuilder X also includes several new features to make coding faster.

“Developers spend a ton of time in the editor,” she said.

With that in mind, JBuilder X has configurable personalities so programmers customize their environment by choosing the most relevant features. JBuilder also has improved code folding, which enables developers to view multiple sections of the code they are working on; projectwide to-do lists and bookmarks; and access to new refactorings that let programmers restructure code more easily.

As the remaining independent tools vendor, Borland increasingly faces pressure from the major platform vendors, namely BEA and IBM Corp., both of which offer toolsets integrated with their application servers.

“Borland is trying to make it so that developers stick with its tools,” said Ron Schmelzer, senior analyst with ZapThink LLC. “Borland’s developers are its strength. They don’t want people migrating to another platform.”

Borland offers three editions: JBuilder Enterprise, primarily for J2EE and Web services development; JBuilder Developer, for Web application and code-centric development; and JBuilder Foundation, the successor to JBuilder Personal. Under a new licensing model for JBuilder X, customers can use and distribute JBuilder Foundation.