Number of SanFrancisco-Based Applications Grows

When IBM Corp. announced the new version of its SanFrancisco component suite, it emphasized the growing level of support by independent software vendors. To date, more than 700 companies have licensed SanFrancisco, according to IBM, and with the release of version 1.3, Big Blue also points out that eight new applications built using SanFrancisco are now coming to market.

Doubts about the significance of SanFrancisco have centered around the slow release of applications based on the components, but Joe Damassa, SanFrancisco director of marketing, argues that ISVs with previous experience in object-oriented development and Java have been able to implement SanFrancisco "quite rapidly."

Damassa adds that it will be easier for developers to use SanFrancisco once it's supported by the primary Java integrated development environments. IBM's own VisualAge for Java only recently added support for SanFrancisco components, he says. Several of the other major IDEs also now support SanFrancisco components, according to an IBM spokeswoman.

One of the companies showcased by IBM during the announcement, ActionWare (Emeryville, Calif., www.actionware.com), built its contact and activity management system using SanFrancisco components. "We're depending on SanFrancisco to give us a full set of services, without which we would have to spend a lot of time creating the code ourselves," says president and CEO Robin Retallick.

In conjunction with the announcement of SanFrancisco 1.3, InterWeb Solutions LLC (Fremont, Calif., www.interweb-solutions.com) also announced its first application based on SanFrancisco, called iWebConnect for PeopleSoft, which is an application integration framework for extending the functionality of PeopleSoft ERP applications. "[SanFrancisco] enables us to work on projects with less development staff," says Mark Olson, InterWeb's vice president of marketing and business development.

InterWeb also announced plans to use its iWebConnect software to develop iWebRequisition for PeopleSoft, an application for Web-enabled online requisition management that will integrate with PeopleSoft Purchasing.

SanFrancisco contains "three and a half million lines of code that your developers don't have to write because we've done it for them," says John Swainson, general manager of application and integration middleware for IBM's Software Group.

The component-based development model couldn't succeed until a critical mass of components had become available, according to Swainson. "This isn't a new idea, but it's only becoming real now," he says.

Version 1.3, which will be available by the end of the year, includes several new features: components for building accounts receivable and payable, order management and warehouse management applications; performance enhancements; improved support for legacy data access; GUI enhancements; additional documentation and examples; the ability to build JavaBeans that are SanFrancisco-aware; and 18 months of free tech support for developers and 12 months of free tech support for end users.

IBM is also striving to resolve another potential stumbling block for SanFrancisco adoption: its lack of interoperability with Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB). SanFrancisco components and EJB strive to solve similar application development problems, and since they're both written in Java, it's important they be able to integrate with each other. Swainson explains that development began on SanFrancisco before Sun Microsystems released the EJB specification, so the two need to be reconciled. "We are working with Sun and others in the industry to put the changes in place that we need to put SanFrancisco in place in the EJB framework," he says.