December 9, 1996 10 AM ET

Sybase's 'Starbuck' tackles Java
By Talila Baron

  The Powersoft Division of Sybase Inc. is making a bid for the Java developer market with its announcement this week of a new visual RAD tool, code-named Starbuck, that lets programmers create Java applications.

The new visual development environment gives users drag-and-drop programming, along with debugging capabilities within the browser, an extensive library of Java components and classes, and a visual SQL editor, said company officials.

As the rapid application development tool evolves, Starbuck will incorporate a native compiler to give users the ability to create true, Wintel-native applications, Powersoft officials said. Future versions of Starbuck also will include more prepackaged Java components and will provide tighter integration with Microsoft Corp.'s ActiveX components.

"The number of Java components available today is limited, and we will provide more prepackaged components in future releases," said Deanne Ferrar, director of product marketing at Powersoft, in Waterloo, Ontario. "New versions of the tool will allow developers to drop visual controls inside a Java page, which is not available today."

"The benefit is that RAD tools give you the ability to develop applications more quickly," said Patrick Nadeau, senior systems staff specialist at Fleet Services Corp., in Providence, R.I. "Using Starbuck, we will be porting PowerBuilder applications to Java."

Fleet intends to use Java to create an online banking service.

"All our users are remote. So with Java, we no longer have to distribute software to all 1,600 clients--which was a huge problem before," Nadeau added.

Starbuck comes bundled with NetImpact Dynamo, Powersoft's tool for thread pooling, caching and creating HTML templates.

It also provides hooks into version control software packages such as Intersolv Inc.'s PVCS, Mortice Kern Systems Inc.'s RCS, Microsoft's SourceSafe and Powersoft's Object Cycle, which users said is critical.

Other key features of Starbuck 1.0 are a set of built-in Java Beans components allowing developers to assemble multiplatform Java applets and applications. Database access is provided through support of Java Database Connectivity.

A prerelease version of Starbuck is now available on the World Wide Web, although final packaging and pricing details have not been announced.

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