IBM Rational unveils upgrade to next tools portfolio

GRAPEVINE, TEX. – Rational gave developers a glimpse into the next major version of its tools portfolio, code-named Atlantic, as part of its recent Rational Software Development User Conference.

Atlantic isn’t due out until later this year, but last month Mike Devlin, general manager of Rational software in the IBM software group, said the new capabilities will support Unified Modeling Language (UML) 2.0 and JavaServer Faces (JSF), which provide components that enable developers to create interactive Web pages. The next major release of the IBM Software Development Platform will feature both IBM Corp. and Rational tools.

Lee Nackman, chief technology officer with Rational Software, provided a demonstration of the next software release, which will be integrated with Eclipse 3.0 open source tools environment. IBM also said that the Eclipse Hyades integrated test and monitoring environment would be featured in the Atlantic.

“This is the direction we’re heading…to help developers build better software products,” Nackman said during his demonstration. Other features Atlantic will include are service data objects, which enable developers to link applications to databases and real-time deployment to WebSphere. There will also be a new ClearCase client that will improve team-based development, IBM Rational said.

Toronto-based Geoffrey Peart, a technical systems analyst with a Canadian bank, said that Atlantic looks like a “phenomenal way to bring aspects of Rational onto the desktop.” The bank currently uses IBM tools for WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD), and is always looking for best practices and ways to standardize its development processes, he explained. His company is trying to take its back-end functionality and make it easier to use.

“Everyone is buying into the mentality of better processes and integration,” Peart explained. “Integration allows you to respond to things faster.” In fact, integration was the main buzzword at the conference, as IBM Rational also discussed some of its development tools for IBM Workplace and how those tools would suit a whole gamut of developers.

From the business, development, operations and deployment angles, IBM Rational is going to “bring it all together in a single process,” Devlin said. “This will accelerate the development cycle.” Peart said IBM was making an effort to change what he called the “Grade 7 dance scene” — where everyone stood around, alone, and didn’t talk to anyone else. In other words, there is often a disconnect between technical and business employees, but the new tools are “making an effort to change that.”

“New development tools take away monotonous, low-level coding and they allow you to consume whole legacy systems,” he said. Development tools for IBM Workplace will be part of IBM’s software development platform and will include WebSphere Studio Device developer 5.7, which provides developers with the ability to extend applications from the desktop onto mobile devices and laptops. It will ship on July 30.

Also included in the release: WebSphere API Toolkit, for integrating with IBM Workplace platform; Workplace builder, a tool for business users; and Workplace designer, an enterprise-level scripting tool that can be used for building standalone business applications.

Integration across the entire development life cycle is something that at least one IBM Rational business partner said he is interested in. Derek Bildfell, chief operating officer at Toronto-based Caro Systems Inc., a solutions provider and a business partner of IBM Rational, said he likes how the Rational Unified Process (RUP) includes best practices and tools to facilitate them.

“Also, the clear extension to business modeling area is helping the adoption of RUP pretty dramatically,” he said.

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