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  1. Technology
April 10, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Not wanting to turn away customers that it says are banging on its door with checks in their hands, Imperial Software Technology Ltd is accelerating its Java product delivery schedule. It is also concerned in case potential customers put off C++ buying plans if they do not see a Java product on its horizon. Initially Imperial Software has added a Java code generation option to its X-Designer graphical user interface builder as XD/Java. X- Designer with XD/Java is priced at $3,500; upgrades and maintenance are free for one year. Imperial Software says it solves the thin client problem for Motif developers who need not concern themselves with whether they might need to move applications to Java. The company’s full-blown visual Java application builder, JavaDesigner, is currently slated for a third quarter release, but in view of the accelerating market for Java development environments, it has got its engineers imbibing copious quantities of the black brew to get code out of the door sooner. JavaDesigner is said to provide a project view of Java applications, an integrated graphical user interface builder, class browser, C++ bridge and property editors. Solaris, HP-UX and Irix versions are due first, followed by Windows and Mac implementations. Pricing will not be announced until nearer the release date as Imperial believes current consumer market pricing tiers for Java development tools – Symantec Corp’s Cafe is $130 – will not last because the tools are simply not consumer items. Even if Symantec maintains Cafe as a loss leader, Imperial believes the rest of the market will be forced to adopt more conventional tools pricing strategies; it is going to wait and see what shakes out. However it believes the quality, pricing and availability of Cafe is driving other vendors’ product development cycles into higher gears. The anticipated rush to summer shipment schedules has been brought forward a quarter or so.

Long-term solution

SunSoft Inc’s own Java Workshop development environment schedule was brought forward to last week, requiring it to bring in a Java interface builder from start-up Active Software Inc rather than wait for its own code to roll off the bench. The two were working on the deal and integration right down to the wire before last Tuesday’s introduction. SunSoft resells the existing X-Designer as Visual Workshop for C++; Imperial Software hopes the company will pick up its Java offering as a long term solution, although as we went to press it appeared to be still searching for such a deal. Imperial Software describes its Java play as dipping its toe in the water like the rest of the C++ development community, including Ilog SA and Rogue Wave Software Inc, but says its core business will remain Motif and X. It says the difference between JavaDesigner and other offerings will be its ability to combine Java applets and other pieces of code into large applications. Indeed it sees no reason why Java should not be used for enterprise development purposes even if SunSoft would have us believe it is for front-end and small application development only. SunSoft’s concern, Imperial Software believes, is that the whole Java phenomenon will snowball beyond its control; how can it ensure that all Java applets large or small will be able to work together? Imperial says Java has gone from being precisely none of its consulting business two months ago to 25% now. It is doing other system and network security modeling for Java with SunSoft. JavaDesigner has been created using the same new interpretive language, Neil, upon which X Designer is built; it is not written in Java. However Imperial claims Neil is almost indistinguishable from Java and can be similarly interpreted or compiled. It says it even considered doing its own Java rival back in the summer, but canned the notion once the SunSoft product began to gather momentum. Indeed byte-interpretive languages have been around for aeons, Imperial observes. It is only a particular alignment of market and technology requirements – to animate the Web – plu

s luck, that laid Sun Microsystems Inc its golden egg. It claims it is doing more business on X Designer now that SunSoft is also selling the product.

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