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Insights on Borland

  • By Bradley L. Jones
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The Hype and the Industry Today...

If you listen to some companies that sell products, you'd get the impression that there is only one solution that can and should be implemented. If you listen to the .NET companies, it seems the hype is all about .NET being the right way. If you listen to those in the Java community, it seems that the hype is all about Java. You'll hear that J2EE is the solution, the "end-all, be-all" for enterprise development. Just ask the folks Sun Microsystems; I'll speculate that they will confirm this for you. If you ask the people at Microsoft, I'll again speculate that they will tell you that .NET is the best answer, especially if integrated with the servers and other products created by Microsoft.

In the real world (that is, the world that operates outside of all the marketing hype), most medium- to large-sized companies have implemented at least a little of both Sun's and Microsoft's technologies along with several other types of solutions. Many companies are still maintaining COBOL, PowerBuilder, or other legacy applications. Only a limited percentage are using just the software from one vendor, and even fewer are using just leading edge versions of the products.

Regardless of whom you ask, one area where the hype is consistent is in the area of standards. Everyone agrees that following standards is the way to help ensure that what you develop today will have a potentially longer life in the future. Of course, you have to figure out whose standards you are going to follow—especially when there are competing standards for accomplishing the same task! Using an older example, consider the concepts of building objects. Two "standards" developed several years back. One from Microsoft was the Common Object Model (COM). The other that evolved and is used more in the Java world is the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA).

Two competing standards! This raises the question of which standard is the real standard. You'll find the same issue of competing standards when digging into topics such as Web services, wireless development, voice, accessing a database, and many other topics as well. The hype in the industry will try to lead you to believe one standard is better than another. In reality, for most of us it simply means that the word "standard" has lost some of its meaning and value. For Borland, it means that the tools need to be even smarter.

Back to Borland...

Borland seems to be laying low in the marketing and hype arena. More importantly, it seems to be focused on developing tools and solutions rather than simply trying to market hype. Borland is working to provide an infrastructure and a set of tools that will let you plan, develop, deploy, and maintain applications regardless of what other companies you align with. It is working to build tools for the key platforms. It is also working to build tools that help to integrate features of the key platforms together.

For example, the Janeva product allows you to integrate J2EE and Corba objects into your .NET applications. Such connectivity is just one of the areas where tools for real solutions are being provided so that enterprise connectivity and real world solutions can be developed. Better yet, this tool allows you to use both "standard" ways of using objects in your .NET applications—J2EE/CORBA objects are added in much the same way as COM objects. Janeva makes the use of these two competing technologies very similar. There is no extra expertise needed, nor is there any need for additional back-end software or support beyond the Janeva product. Borland is working to keep it simple.

In Conclusion

While Borland is working to provide full lifecycle support, it has not stepped away from its background in building development tools. In just the past few weeks, it has released its newest development tool that is aimed at .NET developers doing C#—Borland C# Builder. Look for a review of Borland C# Builder here on Developer.com in the near future.

At twenty years of age, Borland seems to be moving into adulthood as a company. It's left its rebellious teen years. It's grabbed back its real name, it's solidified its focus, and is forging forward by continuing to focus on its customers. For those of us who develop, it continues to work to provide the tools and the solutions to meet real would issues. It continues to straddle the lines that other companies (read Sun, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle) seem try to get us to believe exist. It is providing tools and solutions for the full lifecycle of building business solutions—solutions that can live across different platforms and across different standards. While Borland has had its ups and downs, it appears to be doing things right today.

Now, where is that Philippe Kahn jazz CD....

- Bradley L. Jones, Executive Editor

Have an opinion on Borland, ILEs, Philippe Kahn's CD, or technology in general? Come discuss them in the forums at www.CodeGuru.com/forum.

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This article was originally published on August 13, 2003

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