IDEs Evolve into More Sophisticated Frameworks
by Rikki C. Kirzner
Fueling the Trend
Tough worldwide economies, government legislation, and the need to create applications more quickly and more cost effectively are all fueling the shift toward open source technology and more automated and abstract development methodologies. There is an urgent need to resolve the growing complexity of software development and deployment and to process the overabundance of information and data that is handled and exchanged daily. This need has sparked a desire for more service-oriented, composite, and mobile applications, and, as this desire grows, the creation of more traditional transactional applications diminishes. Linux has become part of this trend since it provides developers with an easy way both to port code across different hardware platforms and to integrate third-party and in-house applications to the platforms of their choice.
A New Generation
The combination of these technologies and methodologies requires developers to have a significantly more effective way to create, enhance or extend products while reducing the work involved in integrating documents, applications, and data, or in having to handle the problems associated with incompatible technologies. This necessity has birthed a new generation of development frameworks that enable software developers and end users to benefit from the interoperability, reduced complexity, and lower costs often associated with the ability to use common architectures, common code and interfaces, and reusable software.
The Displacement of Traditional IDEs
Consequently, traditional 3GL IDEs are rapidly being displaced by well integrated, highly functional application lifecycle frameworks and a strong desire to separate visual interfaces, business logic, and data access into different views of the same development environment. This has also given rise to the growing preference for using fewer, more standardized development frameworks where independent software vendors can offer various technology and solutions as plug-ins.
Platforms of Choice
Both .NET and Eclipse are quickly becoming the dominant platforms of choice for developers. This is due primarily to the large support network that has grown up around Linux and Microsoft and, in Linux’s case, to the readily available code that can be copied and/or leveraged for most major projects. Eclipse allows developers to find and use best-of-breed tools that are available as open source plug-ins. Most developers will tell you that the collaboration and community support for open source has produced high quality software that is now finding its way into global commercial and government software deployments.
The good news is that, for companies searching for the right tools to support their legacy investments and develop services and composite applications, there are efficient and credible choices for development frameworks from several independent vendors whose products have evolved along with the shift in developer preferences. Among these, Borland, IBM, and Sybase have integrated and evolved their design, development, and deployment product suites into rich-function, seamlessly integrated, development frameworks. These frameworks support visual application development, model-driven design and development, and application deployment. Of these vendors, both Borland and Sybase are capable of supporting heterogeneous development and cross-platform tools for both .NET and Java on Eclipse for traditional computing to mobile platforms.
The advantage of these frameworks is that they not only offer seamlessly integrated tools that provide multiple views of the design and development process, they also allow the development team to easily navigate around the software and hardware assets of the development project through an interface that provides a common look and feel across all the tools. More importantly, each vendor has been able to provide unique advantages that empower users who work with the vendors’ specific products without also limiting the developer’s ability to pull in tools or solutions from other vendors that might be more appropriate to their specific needs. This flexibility and capability gives developers the much-needed power and agility to implement their company’s technology vision without the proprietary constraints so prevalent in years past.
The IDE as we knew it is dead. Long live the new breed of application lifecycle framework and all the possible technological solutions these are capable of creating. In future reports we will be examining each of these tools in more detail.