VA for Java 2.0 Fortifies AS/400 as Web Server

IBM's VisualAge for Java version 2.0 helps fortify the AS/400's position as a Web-based enterprise application server.

The Java programming environment, part of IBM's Network Computing Framework, lets developers build Web-enabled enterprise Java applications, JavaBeans components, servlets, and applets. These Java applications can run on a range of operating environments, including OS/400, Windows NT, AIX, OS/390 and OS/2 application servers.

With its latest upgrade, IBM takes aim at some of the performance problems dogging enterprise Java applications by offering tighter integration with the AS/400's architecture and OS/400 operating system.

According to IBM, the development environmentís new features are designed to increase performance, streamline program maintenance, improve project management through team programming, and make it easier to connect Java applications to enterprise systems.

"VisualAge for Java's AS/400 features can be traced back to January, when we released the Enterprise Edition of VisualAge for Java," says Mitchell Faulkner, a spokesperson for IBMís AS/400 Application Development division in Toronto, Ontario. "Then, OS/400 V4R2, announced in February, included more Java function, and we began to leverage that added function in VisualAge for Java."

The result was VisualAge for Java 1.0.1, which included a set of 100 Percent Pure Java classes specifically designed for the AS/400 platform. These Java classes handle functions such as DB2/400 access, data querying, and remote procedure calls to RPG and COBOL applications. The development environment includes a collection of wizards, called Smart Guides. For example, a Java editor Smart Guide lets users generate Java code that compiles on the AS/400.

"We wanted to make sure Java performed well on the AS/400. The Java Virtual Machine doesnít allow a Java application to run as fast as it will in native mode on the AS/400 using the machine instructions. The AS/400 Smart Guide ensures that the application executes better and faster," explains Faulkner.

VisualAge for Java 2.0, IBM integrates AS/400 function, called Enterprise Toolkit/400, into the Interactive Development Environment (IDE). It also adds subfiles support; an application performance monitoring capability accessible from within the VisualAge for Java console; a new High Performance Compiler that optimizes Java code for AIX, OS/400 and Windows NT environments; and a Remote Debugger to let users test and debug interpreted Java, compiled Java and C++ applications on PCs or AS/400s from one workstation. In addition, a live repository for Java objects facilitates code reuse and helps reduce development time for custom applications.

Industry analysts say that the latest release of VA for Java is noteworthy for its breadth of features. In a report released earlier this year, International Data Corp., (Framingham, Mass.), called VisualAge for Java 2.0 "a powerful, well-conceived product [with] a very sophisticated infrastructure for addressing interoperability issues, which helps move [the development environment] higher up the enterprise development tool food chain."

The report states that the development tool's only negative aspect is its orientation toward IBM products and systems, and lack of support for a wider range of middleware and servers from other vendors. But on the other hand, according to IDC, IBM offers wizards that can be used with the San Francisco Business Framework, Tivoli, and Lotus products to help ease the development process.