Tapping a familiar theme of late, BEA Systems Inc. and Compuware Corp. on Thursday will forge an alliance intended to make it easier to develop Java applications.

The companies plan to integrate the Compuware OptimalJ model-driven J2EE development environment with BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1, an integrated visual development and runtime framework for Java.

According to the companies, the initiative provides a model-driven environment that allows developers of all skill levels to build and deploy J2EE applications.

The two products present distinct but complementary development approaches, BEA and Compuware said. Workshop provides a visual development framework while OptimalJ implements patterns to help developers translate business models into working applications. This integration serves to boost productivity and enable delivery of more standards-compliant applications, the companies said.

The first phase of the joint development effort is expected to include enhancements to OptimalJ that generate business components as Java controls for WebLogic and customized deployment parameters for improved performance. Work on the project is expected to be completed next month and be available as a service pack to OptimalJ customers.

“Both of these products really are designed to promote productivity in the J2EE environment, and these two complementary methodologies or approaches — the visual approach versus the model-driven, pattern-based approach — they allow the customer who has developers of different skill levels and requirements to use both paradigms,” said Paul Styles, strategic alliance manager at Compuware.

“By allowing components generated from OptimalJ to be easily brought into Workshop, (it) really gives users the best of both worlds, where you have two products, one that promotes the next generation of a leading, model-driven approach for an enterprise application, combined then with Workshop’s service-oriented model and framework,” said Dave Cotter, director of developer marketing at BEA.

The move closely follows Sun Microsystems Inc.’s recently announced plans to release in 2004 a development tool called Java Studio Creator that is intended to make Java programming easier.