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AJAX, agile programming are highlighted by Tibco, Rally

Posted by iNext - 2006-02-15

Two trendy software development technologies, AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and agile programming, are being advanced this week with rollouts from Tibco Software and Rally Software.
Featured is a new version of Tibco's General Interface development platform that includes a free deployment option.

Although AJAX technology has gotten hot in the past year, General Interface has featured AJAX-style development since 2001. The General Interface development platform is being upgraded this week by Tibco, which acquired General Interface in the fall of 2004.

The platform currently has an installed base of several thousand users, according to Tibco.

But with General Interface Version 3.1, a new deployment option called General Interface Professional Edition is intended to boost that installed base. The Enterprise Edition is being upgraded as part of the rollout, also.

Professional Edition features a licensing plan that lets developers build and test applications for free. Applications can be deployed to the general public at no cost; privately deployed applications start at $499 for five concurrent users. The goal of Professional Edition is "to make the technology available and affordable to a much broader developer community," said Kevin Hakman, director of product marketing for General Interface at Tibco.

"General Interface provides a framework for deploying applications that look, feel and perform like desktop software but run purely in a browser," Hakman said.

With the no-cost deployment option for the Professional release, Tibco can lure developers interested in AJAX who might otherwise seek a free, open source alternative, said analyst Ray Valdes of Gartner.

"What's happening with AJAX itself is it's catching on like wildfire at the grassroots," Valdes said.

Previously, Tibco offered just the General Interface Enterprise Edition, which started in price at $25,000 and features a warranty, indemnity,and support. These benefits are lacking in the Professional edition.

A key new feature in General Interface 3.1 is visual tooling for drag-and-drop binding of XML messages, for forming of objects for the GUI, data,and JavaScript. This saves developers from having to write scripts for this purpose.

Debugging utilities have been enhanced to enable inspection of outgoing and incoming messages and headers. A JavaScript API in Vrsion 3.1 allows for third parties to more easily extend the General Interface framework with GUI components and visual tools.

"I think General Interface was one of the pure-play specialty vendors in AJAX with a strong offering," Valdes said. "They've been really doing AJAX for a long time as opposed to going through the motions of AJAX, which is what many vendors [are doing] who claim to have been doing it for years."

Both versions of General Interface 3.1 are available on Monday.

Rally Software is making available two releases of its hosted service for agile development. The company is introducing a new version for a single team of developers while keeping another for multiple teams. Agile programming delivers software in two- to four-week increments, as opposed to the waterfall-style of development that only ships software every six to 18 months, according to Rally.

Rally Agile Team Edition is for a single team of 10 developers and testers to communicate and manage software iterations. The multi-team service, Rally Agile Pro Edition, supports all roles and activities in a software lifecycle, with capabilities for release planning, tracking, requirements management, and program management.

"A number of companies wanted to get started with agile on just a single team and pilot and scale it up to agile practices, so we designed a product that didn't have the extra features of managing multiple teams in it," said Richard Leavitt, Rally vice president of product marketing. "We took out the program management features," of the Pro edition, he said.

With the new releases of Rally, enhanced custom views and filters enable users to add custom fields to requirements, test cases, and defects. Also offered is an enhanced Web services API for both SOAP and REST (Representational State Transfer), to integrate Rally with IDEs, the company said.  

Inline editing in Rally leveraging AJAX supports requirements, test cases, defects, and scheduling cards.

The core Rally platform now features a new User Story Type requirement, which provides a brief description of functionality to be provided from a user's perspective.

Rally Agile Pro pricing is $65 per month per user. Rally Agile Team Edition can be purchased for a promotional price of $995 per five users for six months.

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