Development Bonanza Brings New Ruby, PHP, Java Tools


The development field got an infusion of new tools this week, with major releases from Eclipse, Sun Microsystems and CodeGear targeting hot technologies.

Dynamic languages developers received new IDEs (integrated development environments) from the Eclipse Foundation's PHP Development Tools (PDT) project and CodeGear's cleverly named 3rd Rail, a toolkit for Ruby on Rails development. Meanwhile, Sun launched version 2 of its GlassFish open-source application server and the beta version of NetBean 6, Sun's Java development IDE.

CodeGear, formerly Borland, hopes to revitalize the commercial IDE market by targeting emerging platforms like Ruby on Rails, an open-source framework popular among Web developers. Previewed in May, 3rdRail includes code refactoring, navigation and completion tools, along with a complete stack of deployment technology. Priced at $299 and available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, 3rdRail's technology bundle includes the MySQL database a developer license for CodeGear's InterBase database.

3rdRail is built atop Eclipse, the popular open-source tools platform for developing in a myriad of programming languages. Eclipse had its own major release this week, as its PDT project launched its 1.0 release. Like Ruby, PHP is a dynamic language frequently used for Web development.

PDT 1.0 includes editing, debugging and code-management tools built with the Eclipse framework and look-and-feel already familiar to developers using the platform's popular Java IDE. PHP software and services firm Zend Technologies led the project's development, with additional technology contributions from IBM. The initiative extends Eclipse's ecosystem more deeply into the Web development field, and gives PHP developers one of the first IDEs tailored to their platform.

Over in the Java world, Sun's GlassFish 2.0 launch brings more advanced enterprise-level functionality to Sun's freely available, open-source application server. Released simultaneously with Java EE 5 in May 2006, GlassFish is both the reference architecture for other Java EE 5 application servers and a technology that Sun hopes will stand up to competition from leading commercial application servers like BEA's WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere.

With GlassFish version 2, Sun added clustering and centralized administration features, along with support for "Project Metro," a joint Sun/Microsoft initiative working toward Web services interoperability between Java and Windows environments.

Alongside GlassFish's update, Sun released a new version of its commercial counterpart, Sun's Java System Application Server 9.1. The commercial version's core technology is identical to GlassFish's, according to Ken Drachnik, Sun's open source community marketing manager. For paying customers, Sun offers maintenance and support, indemnification and a few added technologies such as an installer.

Sun also set loose a beta of NetBeans 6, which adds support for Ruby and JavaScript to Sun's Eclipse-rival IDE. Other highlights of the under-development update include usability improvements and a new licensing plan, adding the GMU General Public License version 2 (GPL 2) as an option alongside Sun's Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL).