Symantec’s VisualCafé Aspires to be Catchall Suite

Mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships, whatever the deal, there is one group of people that puts the cards back in place once the deck's been shuffled: IT. Networks need to be converged, as do applications and the servers they run on. Once given orders to move all applications that we're running on Oracle Application Server to IBM WebSphere, how do you keep development from going haywire?

Symantec Corp. ( believes they may have solved a piece of this puzzle with VisualCafé 4.0. This latest version of Symantec's development suite includes the ability to develop through an Integrated Application Environment (IAE) that supports multiple application servers.

"Having an adaptable solution gives the customer a way to choose," says Carlos Chang, VisualCafé product manager at Symantec. "You want to have an IAE that takes advantage of all environments."

Some of the new features in version 4.0 include support for both Java Developer Kit (JDK) 1.1 and 1.2, as well as support for JDK 1.3, which Sun Microsystems Inc. ( has in beta.

Other new features in VisualCafé will make it familiar to developers who use Microsoft Corp.'s Visual Studio suite, except this environment is pure Java. Symantec is integrating the VisualPage and VisualCafé environments to create both a WYSIWYG and source code editor for developing Java Server Pages (JSPs). In the source editor, developers can edit HTML, Java, and XML, with help from syntax highlighting that color codes the different languages while a code helper begins to finish lines of code for developers as they're writing it in.

Symantec added more power to its Just In Time (JIT) compiler, which makes it run faster and adds support for Java Virtual Machines from IBM Corp. ( and Sun. The JIT even allows the developer to compile a Java 2 application to a native Windows environment.

Through this new release, Symantec is attempting to be a one-stop shop for application development tools and the platforms they run on. VisualCafé Enterprise Edition includes a development version of the application server WebLogic from BEA Systems Inc. ( and an Oracle database (

With these tools, Chang feels Symantec is in the perfect place to help what he says is the growing number of enterprise developers turning to Java, especially for server-side transactions. Symantec officials cite several studies as evidence of this. According to a study by market research firm Strategic Focus (, 23 percent of new enterprise development in 1999 was done in Java. International Data Corp. (IDC, projects the enterprise Java market, as reflected by the demand for Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), will expand more than eightfold over the next three years, from $73 million in 2000 to $628 million in 2003.

"In the short term you'll see a lot more interest in developing dynamic pages with Java Server Pages and calling Enterprise JavaBeans," Chang says. "You'll see a lot more prevalence associated with XML. Even Microsoft is behind that."