New EJB Tool is No Ordinary Joe

Computer Associates International Inc. (CA, www.cai.com) is shipping the 1.1 version of COOL:Joe, an Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) development environment that combines productivity aids with component-modeling capabilities. The tool was originally part of a development tool suite from Sterling Software, which CA purchased last year.

COOL:Joe addresses problems associated with delivering distributed component systems using Java and EJBs. COOL:Joe's component orientation makes it different from other EJB development environments, says Maysoon Al-Hafso, business manager for COOL:Joe at CA. "Many of the IDEs [integrated development environments] on the market come from the user interface perspective and need to be integrated with modeling tools. Joe integrates the component modeling piece with the component implementation piece, enabling you to go straight through."

Analysts agree that tools that help eliminate extra steps in the development process are needed to help resource-strapped organizations deploy EJB and Java applications. "Although EJB is becoming a widely accepted means of developing and deploying Web-based business solutions, the demand for architects and developers who are skilled in this technology is far outpacing the supply", says Steve Garone, vice president at IDC (www.idc.com). "A tool that can aid an organization in navigating the complexity of the EJB and J2EE specifications can only help in plugging this skills gap."

Some developers have been anxiously awaiting J2EE compliance in tools. Per Erik Lindskog, technical architect at Jetpak AB (www.jetpak.com), lauds the tool's compliance with J2EE standards. "Everything works like a Swiss clock," he says. Jetpak has been working with COOL:Joe for more than six months.

CA plans to bundle COOL:Joe 1.1 with Jasmine ii, its application server platform. "We're adding Joe as a development tool into the Jasmine EJB platform itself," Al-Hafso says. CA plans to announce integration between COOL:Joe and Jasmineii over the next six to 12 months, she confirms. "Joe is much more than just a development tool now, which is what it was at Sterling."

New features of COOL:Joe include a Task Advisor that speeds development time and increases productivity with step-by-step guidance for developing EJBs. The new version also includes Web server support that provides developers with a means to graphically display and modify the architecture of the Web-user interface and generate HTML and JavaServer Pages from component specifications. The tool also includes a Context Sensitive Editor.

"Over the last six months, a lot of companies have made the decision to go with Java architectures," Al-Hafso says. "Even in organizations with Java skills -- that want to use Java and the whole J2EE approach in large-scale applications -- making that jump is not necessarily a few baby-steps from where you were. It can be quite a change in the way in which people think and act, and the way in which tools support the kind of things you want to do."

In a separate announcement, CA delivered COOL:Plex 4.5, a development tool originally targeted at the IBM AS/400 environment. The tool was originally designed as Obsydian, an RPG 4GL from Synon Corp. When purchased by Sterling Software, the tool was rebranded COOL:Plex, and a Java code generator was added. Now, under the aegis of CA, the tool has been reconfigured to deliver Java applications to Windows NT/2000 systems as well as AS/400s. CA claims COOL:Plex offers the same multiuser capabilities to Windows as it has for AS/400s -- delivering applications supporting up to 1,000 clients attached to a single Windows 2000 server. This level of scalability has not been achievable without multiple Windows NT servers in the past.