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Spent this morning at an IBM developerWorks briefing on the Rational developer tools (I won’t rattle them all off – one slide identified 25 Rational/IBM development products, including the Eclipse base!) – they call the full a la carte menu a “software delivery platform” providing governance (they’re topical at least), portfolio management, change/build management, and architecture management. This last was the primary focus, and  most of the discussion was around the  nested Software Modeler, Application Developer, Software Architect and Systems Developer products.

This set of Babushka dolls starts with Eclipse, and builds up layer upon layer of additive functionality (complexity?) from UML modeling, through code generation to the nirvana of model-driven development. The Systems Developer extends the modeling to hardware as well, and via a third-party plugin, uses SysML for modeling systems management.

A fair portion of the time was death-by-Powerpoint, but the two IBMers from the US (Nizam Ishmael and Ed Tuggell (? sp) – both via Austin) managed to skip reasonably lightly over the heavy ground. The demos (although necessarily a bit simplistic) were what everyone wanted to see anyway. Now, while you expect a demo to go well, what we saw seemed to showcase the model-driven architecture complete with round-tripping (the question was asked about how well this handles more complex models, but it seemed solid – experience would be the arbiter, I guess).

Also demonstrated was integration with things like RequisitePro (from which use cases could be modeled via drag’n’drop, and then finished code compared against the requirements for completeness/test cases) and ClearCase source code control.

Key phrases: business-driven development; model-driven architecture; round-tripping, SOA, Rational Unified Process

Caveat: While SOA, Web services, “agile” and Ajax were bandied about, this still seems directed at on-premise/desktop/offline applications … it sounds like a “headspace” limitation rather than a technological hurdle.

Caveat: By the time you’re a few “babushka” layers beyond Eclipse, you’re starting to talk serious dollars … mind you – there’s a fair bit included: a typical Eclipse install might be 600MB – 1GB; Software Architect can be 3 times larger. Plenty of doco, RUP “mentors” every step of the way, and added functionality not (yet) available for free with Eclipse.

It was a very geeky morning …

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