.NET developers get new tools

Microsoft Corp.'s .NET development platform received boosts this week from Visible Systems Corp., which is providing a code-generation tool based on modeling, and ClientSoft Inc., which is enabling the integration of mainframe programs with .NET environments.

Visible announced Visible Developer 3.0, which works within Microsoft's Visual Studio .NET platform to automatically generate 90 percent or more of the business logic and database access code directly from an application model, the company said. Version 3.0 adds support for Visual Basic .NET, the latest version of the programming language, and eases the transition to it, according to the company.

"Visible Developer is a model-based software design and code generation tool," said John Vosburgh, Visible vice president and general manager for modeling tools, in Lexington, Mass. "It's very much in the spirit of the model-driven architecture." Its companion product was Visible Analyst, for process and data modeling, Vosburgh said.

A user and reseller of the product said it enabled him to convert 1.4 million lines of code from the Corevision platform to Visual Basic for a financial services firm's application.

"It was a very significant application that kind of reached its end of life and [the client] wanted to re-engineer it in Visual Basic," said Michael Lowery, president of Order Processing Technologies Inc., a software vendor and systems integrator in Framingham, Mass. The conversion took 30 days through use of a pre-released version of Visible Developer 3.0, after a previous conversion had taken 18 months without it, Lowery said.

Version 3.0 generates three-tier applications incorporating XML Web Services, ADO.NET, Microsoft Visual Basic.NET, and XML, according to Visible. Physical database design is mapped to a single logical business object. Code patterns translate requirements into Visual Basic .NET classes, modules, forms, and stored procedures that comprise the applications. Developers also can modernize applications without rewriting them.

Visible Developer 3.0, due to ship in November, is priced at US$1,995. An Early Adopter Offer makes the product available for $595 for a limited time. Visible plans to add support of the C# programming language to Visible Developer early in 2003.

ClientSoft, meanwhile, announced ClientBuilder for Visual Studio .NET, a tool for integrating IBM mainframe and AS/400 applications as XML Web Services or .NET components in Microsoft environments. Also functioning with Visual Studio .NET, developers, for example, could use ClientBuilder to take a green-screen insurance application and enable that data to be integrated into a Siebel CRM application.

"It makes it quick and easy to actually do integration with legacy systems, which in the past hasn't been so quite easy," said Brian Anderson, product marketing manager for ClientSoft, in Atlanta.

The wizard-driven tool turns data into a Web service, using SOAP and WSDL. "What it does is it wraps legacy transactions and exposes them as Web services," Anderson said.

Shipping now, ClientBuilder for Visual Studio .NET is priced beginning at $89,000.

Additionally, ClientSoft next month plans to rename its Java-based integration tool, ClientBuilder Advanced Server, as ClientBuilder for Java. Users will be able to integrate with Java application servers such as the BEA Systems Inc.'s WebLogic or the IBM Corp.'s WebSphere platforms.

Visible Systems has no plans currently for a Java-based version of Visible Developer.

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