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Borland takes battle to Eclipse with JBuilder 2007

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After months of promises, and with backing from the Eclipse Foundation, Borland has released an overhauled edition of JBuilder that promises to overtake Eclipse on quality.

JBuilder 2007 updates Borland's previously closed-source Java development environment by employing the Eclipse open source framework and by swapping in the Eclipse Visual Editor for Borland's own more developed Swing GUI Editor.

The IDE is arguably the biggest update to JBuilder in years - at least since version 3.0 or 4.0, according to Borland's new tools CodeGear subsidiary. JBuilder 2007 ends recent attempts to give the IDE a "role-centric" focus, with CodeGear saying the only role is the "developer role".

Borland initially held out against Eclipse, prompting Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, this week to welcome Borland to the list of distributors. JBuilder 2007, he said, "delivers enterprise-class capabilities that complement and extend the Eclipse platform".

But CodeGear hopes JBuilder 2007 can win developer support by exploiting potential weaknesses in Eclipse at least in terms of the management of plug-ins. JBuilder 2007 features Project Assist for IT teams to set up and manage Borland's profiling and debugging tools, and open source projects including Subversion, Bugzilla, Xplaner, JBoss and Apache Continuum. Also included is Project Assist, based on the open source LifeRay, for team monitoring.

According to Michael Swindell, CodeGear vice president of products and strategy, configuration and management of Eclipse plug-ins has been a big problem for development teams.

"Buying lifecycle solutions from companies like CodeGear you get integration. If you adopt the same functionality in open source you get pieces from different groups and it's going to be difficult to install and configure. We want to make it very easy for organizations to configure and set up workstations and for those pieces to seamlessly work together," he said.

Also new are Rapid Application Development (RAD) workbenches for Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs) and Service Oriented Architectures (SOAs), targeting developers using enterprise Java, application servers and web services, according to Swindell.

Price is CodeGear's biggest challenge, with Borland having lost prime business to Eclipse and other "free" tools. So JBuilder's pricing has been shaken up in an attempt to tap the developer's pocket. JBuilder Enterprise Edition is priced $1,999 per user, down from $3,500 charged previously. Professional Edition, a new addition to the portfolio, includes some team features and modeling and is priced at $1,000 per user. A user-edition priced less than $500 per user.

In other Borland news, the company said it will appeal potential Nasdaq delisting. Borland risks being struck off for late filing of its third-quarter results. ®

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