Borland Software has announced the latest incarnation of its Delphi RAD (rapid application development) environment, focusing on the toolkit's tighter integration with its Kylix Linux tools and the product's cross-platform interoperability. More importantly, Delphi's enhancements support Web services standards.
Delphi 6.0 will feature compiler-level support for SOAP (simple object access protocol) and WSDL (Web services description language). That means programmers will be able to Web-enable their applications without writing extra code, according to Michael Swindell, director of product management at Borland.
"Delphi programmers don't have to do anything differently; they just select to expose the code from a menu," Swindell said. The software itself adds the SOAP and WSDL functionality.
Also new to Delphi 6.0 are BizSnap, a Web-services platform for building and integrating components; WebSnap, a Web application design tool; and DataSnap, a tool for creating Web-enabled database middleware.
Borland is not the only tools vendor looking to help developers build Web services. WebGain is also equipping its toolbox for Web services, and is componentising the development process in preparation for Web services, according to CTO Ted Farrell.
The major Web services vendors, including Microsoft, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Oracle, have tools in various stages of development as well.
"We're at the point right now where people are starting to build Web services," said Rikki Kirzner, an analyst at International Data Corp. "They're not really building mission-critical apps, but they are making things such as e-business applications that use the same functions over and over."
Kirzner said the tools will evolve to keep pace with other Web services technologies, including platforms and products such as Microsoft's forthcoming HailStorm.
"The tools don't make building [Web services] really easy yet, but over time they'll make it relatively easy," Kirzner said.