IBM plans new Java-based application development tools

IBM plans new Java-based application development tools

IBM plans to deliver a series of Java-based tools that will allow it to create applications for a wide range of embedded systems, including handheld devices and cellular phones.

Late in 1999, Big Blue is likely to release a series of "simple" development tools, that will enable corporate and third-party developers to build any number of applications for everything from handheld computers to automobiles, according to officials.

For instance, developers could write a name and address book application for use with a cell phone, Steve Mills, general manager of IBM's Software Solutions group, said. Such applications could be written in either Java or Smalltalk languages, he added.

IBM has been building such applications for larger accounts, but now wants to provide users and developers with a series of packaged tools so users can do it themselves.

Some analysts said they believe there is an attractive opportunity for such Java-based applications, but that many of the applications would have more to do with manufacturing control or science and engineering, and not so much with consumer devices.

"In a recent informal survey of 15 or so dev-elopers and IT shops working in Java, more than half the projects involved some sort of special purpose device that brings it into the embedded market," said Jon Rymer, director and senior consultant at Upstream Consulting, in California.

Some as add-ons

"But most were doing manufacturing control applications or loading docks, not PDA [per-sonal digital assistant]-class devices," Rymer added.

Although it is unclear how some of these tools would be packaged, according to one source some would be sold as add-ons to IBM's existing VisualAge for Java and VisualAge for Smalltalk products.

This packaging would allow developers to target lighter weight virtual machines for embedded devices instead of the full-blown Java virtual machine. In addition, some add-ons would be translation utilities for HTML.

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