Flashline Tool Promises Web Services Reuse

Software reuse specialist Flashline has integrated Web services features into the 3.0 release of its asset-management solution, adding support for .NET and Sun ONE to its tool for managing component architectures and frameworks.

The move by Flashline signals Web services uptake may be on a steep upswing, as .NET and Sun ONE join popular component models, including Java, COM, XML and CORBA, as supported standards under Flashline CMEE version 3.

“At this point, we’re seeing primarily internal use of Web services,” says Charles Stack, CEO for Flashline. “It’s primarily wrappering legacy applications in a services architecture, which in turn allows [companies] to extend legacy applications across the entire enterprise.”

Flashline CMEE is currently being used by some large enterprise-sized organizations, namely Charles Schwabb, Cisco Systems and Sprint PCS. And Stack says demand for Web services features has been steadily growing such that Flashline felt it needed to add them to this latest release of CMEE.

According to Stack, as more and more Web services are built in enterprise environments, the value of software reuse goes up. “The Java architecture lends itself very nicely to a reuse model,” says Stack. “And it appears that Microsoft .NET also supports reuse.”

Still, Stack sees a strong future for other forms of component reuse within the enterprise, as well. “There’s still lots of room for component development in the more traditional sense,” says Stack. Long-term, he estimates Web services probably won’t consume more than 30 percent of the component market.

By supporting Sun ONE and .NET, Flashline is showing confidence in the Web services model, which is something many vendors have been reluctant to do. CMEE will now allow Web services developers to locate reusable software assets, promote them into new Web services offerings, and measure their usage.

Flashline CMEE 3.0 is a Java 2 Enterprise Edition application that acts as a meta-data library for components. It is designed to run on any Web server, and will be publicly released in January of this year.

CMEE assigns an hour value to assets so developers have a feel for how long it will take to build a particular piece of code from scratch. With the tools searching mechanism, developers can query the meta-data library to find existing code. And it offers pre-defined templates for a variety of asset types, including .NET and Sun ONE, so developers can customize and modify the requirements and information related to asset types. The tracking and reporting mechanisms of CMEE give IT managers and executives a picture of the usage and return on investment.

Flashline has also given CMEE capabilities for Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration under the 3.0 release. The solution can now load information about Web services and publish it to UDDI registries. CMEE exposes functionality as a Web service based on the Simple Object Access Protocol, and offers pre-built adaptors that enable integration with a variety of third-party development tools, such as Borland JBuilder, IBM VisualAge for Java, WebGain Visual Café, Forte for Java, Oracle JDeveloper, WebGain Application Composer and TogetherSoft ControlCenter.

Right now, Stack says most organizations employing software reuse programs are doing so through pilot programs. However, he says, knowledge of reuse is growing among the development community. But there’s still ground to cover before reuse becomes a primary function for developers, says Stack. “There needs to be a modicum of change before the software developer looks [for reusable assets] first, before they start to develop.”

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to ENTmag.com. 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.