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Clearing up the WebSphere tools confusion

Find out which WebSphere tools are right for you.

There's WebSphere Studio, WebSphere Development Studio Client (WDSC) and WebSphere Studio Application Developer (WSAD) 4.0. Now there's WSAD 5.0.

Right about now, you're probably scratching your head and wondering, "OK. Which one do I go with?" Let's see if we can help you out.

If you purchased Visual Age for Java Enterprise Edition and WebSphere Studio 3.5 and have a Passport Advantage Subscription, you were entitled to upgrade to WSAD 4.0 in January. WSAD 4.0 was IBM's first release of the new integrated Eclipse-based Java and Web development tools for the Enterprise. WSAD 4.0 has been out for less than six months, and now we have WSAD 5.0 using IBM's new-and-improved Eclipse 2.0.

Confusion about the various WebSphere tools has come about because iSeries users also have the WDSC tools. If you're running the WebSphere Application Server (Advanced Edition or Single Server) and you want to develop enterprise Java beans, you must purchase WSAD. WDSC has many iSeries-specific tools, support for legacy application development like RPG and COBOL via CODE/400 and the incredible new WebFacing tool, but it doesn't do enterprise Java beans.

If you install WSAD 4.0, you may then install the WDSC on top of it. And because both are based on Eclipse 1.0, the WDSC will install only those iSeries-specific tools that do not exist in the WSAD, giving you the best of both worlds.

WDSC is NOT yet compatible with WSAD 5.0. So, why would you care about 5.0? WSAD 5.0 is a major upgrade in Java technology and standards support. WSAD 5.0 now supports J2EE 1.3, including EJB 2.0, Servlet 2.3 and JSP 1.2.

WSAD 5.0 also includes support for WebSphere Application Server 5.0 as well as support for version 4.0. You choose your environment when you test or deploy. A complete test environment exists for both version 4 and version 5. You may also use the built-in test server or point to a remote server for your testing and debugging.

In terms of features, the focus of WSAD 5.0 has been on technology. For you VisualAge for Java JSP developers who realized that WSAD 4.0 did not include a JSP debugger, you will be extremely pleased with the support in WSAD 5.0. It now includes an extremely robust JSP debugger.

Many of you have become extremely comfortable with VisualAge for Java and have an "I'd rather fight than switch" attitude. I strongly suggest you get over it, especially if you are using Java to build Web applications.

To be kind, WebSphere Studio 3.5, which shipped with VisualAge for Java Enterprise 4.0, was at best primitive. The new tools seamlessly integrate Web development, testing and deployment with a Java development environment that is more robust than VisualAge.

If you have a passport advantage software subscription, download WSAD 5.0 from IBM's Passport Advantage Web site and give it a spin. You will not go back to VisualAge. Just a footnote, the folks who poured all of the loving development into VisualAge for Java are the same folks building WSAD. They will not disappoint you.

For more information about the product, go to http://www-3.ibm.com/software/ad/studioappdev/about/V5.html.

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About the author: Bob Cancilla is managing director of IGNITe/400, an electronic iSeries 400 Internet users group. He is also author of the book Getting Down to e-business with AS/400 and IBM eServer iSeries: Built for e-business.

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