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Open Web 2.0

IBM spins EGL into a universal application-development solution

IBM’s Enterprise Generation Language (EGL) has long been a technology of choice for business-application developers, as it lets them develop all parts of the application in one universal language. Now, IBM is spinning a wider web and will provide EGL as a free, open-source download for developers and customers, while putting increased focused on the technology’s Web 2.0 capabilities.

In general, building robust Web 2.0 applications for business can be a sticky proposition. Multiple skills and languages are required and business-application developers spend considerable time learning or reacquiring them as they design and deploy these intricate applications. EGL lets developers work faster, at a lower cost, while improving quality.

Releasing the language to the open-source community can only mean positive things. Will Smythe, IBM product line manager, predicts wider adoption, a longer shelf life and increased innovation around the tools and language.

Expanding the Reach

IBM’s contribution to the open-source project is significant. The EGL language, compiler, Java* generator, JavaScript* generator and most of the core tools are being open sourced. These components exist today in the IBM Rational* Business Developer (RBD) product. In 2009, IBM released the free tool, EGL Community Edition, which lets users develop, run and debug EGL-generated Java and JavaScript applications; deploy into a dynamic Web project; and deploy on a Web-application server, such as Apache Tomcat.

Smythe says IBM is seeding code into the project and a fully open-source EGL compiler should be available by the end of this year. The stand-alone Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE) for EGL development (conceptually comparable to the Eclipse IDE for PHP developers) will be delivered midyear 2011.

IBM will continue to build development tools and other solutions for EGL, including Rational Migration Extension, which enables migration of various source languages into EGL. This can result in major cost savings and increased platform flexibility. “Our expectation is for these tools to be built on top of the open-source EGL components, but add additional capabilities not available in the open-source project,” Smythe says. IBM will also continue to provide support to help address issues encountered when using the tools or when applications are in production.

“Going open source improves choice,” he adds “Opening the technology exposes EGL to a new audience of developers, who may have been hesitant to try EGL when it was proprietary technology.”

Logan Kugler is a writer and entrepreneur who’s written about technology and business for more than 50 national and international publications. He built his first computer at age 10.

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