27 February 2002 Alfred Chuang, CEO of application server and middleware software vendor BEA Systems, has said that the launch of the company’s new integrated development environment (IDE), WebLogic Workshop, is merely intended to “show off” BEA’s other products.
WebLogic Workshop, a graphical IDE that BEA says supports interoperability between Java and other software languages, including web services protocols, was launched yesterday at the company’s developer conference in San Diego, California.
Like IBM’s open source Eclipse project, Workshop will enable third party developers to plug their tools into the underlying platform, so that developers can use many of the underlying services that the platform offers.
This should enable them to build complex enterprise applications more quickly and easily. But Chuang says that BEA will not dominate the platform. He envisages Workshop developers adopting a “pick and mix” approach, using BEA tools alongside those of BEA’s competitors, where appropriate.
However, Workshop will be more attractive to developers compared to IBM’s Eclipse because it is easier to use, claims senior product marketing manager Eric Stahl. “To write software in Eclipse you need to be a Java expert,” he says.
BEA is still undecided about whether it will eventually open source Workshop.
But the product puts BEA into a new category of web services IDE vendors that includes software giant Microsoft, as well as IBM. Chuang says that Workshop will enable BEA to “show off” the capabilities of its Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application middleware platform. He said that other tools vendors, such as Borland, are likely to dominate this emerging market for individual development tools, rather than BEA.
Nevertheless, Chuang says that expanding the BEA’s developer community is central to his aim of consolidating BEA’s position among the ranks of software’s “billion dollar companies” during the next five years. He says that BEA will try to increase its developer base from its existing 350,000 to more than 1 million by next year.
The principal architect of this strategy is Tod Nielson, BEA’s chief marketing officer and previously the CEO of Crossgain, a software tools vendor acquired by BEA in July 2001. Nielson, was also behind the creation of Microsoft’s online developer community, the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). He has now created a similar service for BEA developers.
Called dev2dev, the online community is intended to inspire greater loyalty and interest in BEA’s Java-based products and will eventually spread the products to a wider corporate market, says Nielson.