SilverStream Adds Visual Development Tool to eXtend Platform

SilverStream Software (new window) continues to bolster its integrated services environment for J2EE and Web Services developers, as it this week released an IDE called eXtend Workbench. The solution is part of a platform SilverStream is touting as the “first practical, real-world application of Web Services.”

According to Steve Benfield, SilverStream’s CTO, “[Web services] must first be used [by companies] internally where group A finds group B and they can work together” before it leaps outside the firewall to help enterprises integrate with their business partners. And that’s where Workbench focuses, which Benfield says makes it a more realistic solution than some of the development environments that promise integration along the entire supply chain.

Although Workbench can be used to build Web services from scratch, Benfield says he sees it as a good fit for organizations looking to integrate Web services on top of an existing IT infrastructure. Workbench comes complete with a GUI that SilverStream’s Composer and Director tools – the other pieces of the eXtend product suite – can plug directly into.

Composer is designed to define Web services from existing J2EE constructs and backend system CICS, 3270, 5250, telnet, HTML, and XML-enabled applications. Director presents the resulting Web services through a portal technology so they have relevance on the front end. Director can also translate Web services for Microsoft .NET or as JSPs.

Though it is designed to work with Composer and Director, WorkBench is capable of creating Web services on its own. However, Benfield says “Workbench all by itself is geared toward very technical developers. Composer gives you the ability to drag and drop existing components to Web services.”

Like the entire eXtend line, Workbench is a J2EE-based solution. It is compatible with most leading J2EE application servers. “With a single click” Workbench allows developers to deploy applications to SilverStream’s own eXtend Application Server, IBM’s WebSphere, BEA’s WebLogic, Oracle9iAS, and Jakarta Tomcat.

Benfield says SilverStream has chosen to build its Web services development tools on top of J2EE because of the platform’s reputation for scalability and reliability. He says the communal development approach employed by the Java Community Process helps make J2EE a very stable environment. “There are so many different parties participating in the [J2EE] development process that it comes out very well though out, and it essentially works the first time it comes out as a specification,” says Benfield.

SilverStream is currently working on integrating the 1.3 release of J2EE – announced earlier this week – into its eXtend solution set. “Right now we’re 1.2 compliant. Our application server is currently in beta for 1.3 release,” says Benfield. Once SilverStream’s application server is approved for 1.3, the remainder of the eXtend line will be made compliant shortly thereafter.

Benfield says SilverStream moved to add Workbench to the eXtend line after the solution generated 1,500 downloads as a beta. Workbench, which comes equipped with a variety of wizards, editors and other features for building Web services, is available for free download for a limited time at

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.