Moving Toward the Mega-IDEs

Tool makers offer their support, but will everyone want them?

September 15, 2004 —  (Page 1 of 3)
Small tool makers are a pragmatic bunch. They don't disagree with the application life-cycle message promoted by IBM, Microsoft and others, but they question whether business analysts, QA professionals and IT managers will flock to the "mega-IDEs" designed to address every aspect of how applications are designed, coded, tested and deployed.

"No QA or senior manager is ever going to fire up Eclipse or Visual Studio," said Colin Doyle, Integrity Solution product manager at software configuration company MKS Inc. "They are developers' frameworks." When business analysts see debugging and code-generation features, "they will run for the hills," added Henry Bowers, a director of product marketing at ILOG Inc., a business rules software company.

'A Legitimate Question'In the past few months, both IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. outlined strategies to expand the audience for their respective development platforms.

In late May, Microsoft announced plans for Visual Studio Team System, geared not just to developers, but also to architects, operations managers, software testers and project managers. The company is actively courting tool makers to ready their offerings for Team System, promised for next year.

In July, IBM articulated its own vision of the life-cycle process, comprising analysts, architects, developers, testers and administrators. Code-named Atlantic, the next release of IBM's software development platform is promised for year's end, said Eric Naiburg, market manager for desktop products at IBM. Based on Eclipse 3.0, Atlantic will tightly integrate the tools in IBM's Rational, WebSphere and other product lines, and will also allow third-party vendors to plug in their tools.

How will IBM and Microsoft get nondevelopers to use their expanded platforms? "That's a legitimate question to ask," said Prashant Sridharan, a senior product manager in the developer division at Microsoft. The company plans to tailor the tools it builds into Team System to each role. Tools for architects, for example, will have a different look and feel than those for project managers or software testers. Microsoft is building role-specific tools from the ground up, whereas IBM already has the tools that support its life-cycle message in place today.

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