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BuzzCut: IBM Sits Out of the Java Tools Alliance

Sun and BEA have joined other Java software vendors to align Java tool strategies. Why not IBM?

The goal of the Java Tools Community Effort is to create a single framework that would offer interoperability between IDEs and application servers. But IBM refuses to play, having decided to focus on Eclipse, an open-source IDE that uses plug-ins to support a wide variety of languages and deployment targets. Eclipse, and to a large extent Apache's Ant, have become prevalent and familiar to Java developers, but neither provides the kind of interoperability sought by Sun and BEA. Sun and BEA's framework would help bring about standardized target deployment platforms.

This would force Java tools vendors to focus on the application server rather than split their time between the IDE and the application server, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's unlikely to gain traction.

A growing number of tools vendors continue to move their IDEs to the plug-in-based Eclipse. This gives them more time to develop innovative RAD techniques for emerging technologies that, while requiring proprietary extensions to the application server, are quicker to deliver on the promise of true RAD, because they are easier for developers to learn.

IBM and others on the Eclipse path are following Microsoft's successful strategy: Microsoft let independent software vendors extend Visual Studio, thereby making Visual Studio the de facto standard IDE for developing Windows applications. Although standardization is generally a good thing, standardization on a single framework may result in a loss of features, functionality and the ability to differentiate offerings.

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