Friday, February 15, 2008

The facts of RAD

MyEclipse has issued a press release that mentions RAD, and may cause some confusion, so I'd like to take this chance to set the facts straight.

First of all, the transition from WSAD to RAD was purely a naming one. WSAD was delivered prior to IBM's acquisition of Rational, and RAD 6.0 was simply the next version of "WSAD" released under the Rational brand. RAD is entitled as a free upgrade to all active WSAD customers; there is no new cost - describing the transition from WSAD to RAD as complex or costly is either uninformed, or intentionally misleading.

The plumbing that formed the core of both WSAD and RAD was donated by IBM to the eclipse WTP project, to provide a defacto standard interface that others could extend - meaning that any tool extensions will work correctly and naturally with RAD. MyEclipse uses this base, so the basic project structure is the same - but the vast majority of the components that form RAD are not part of WTP; they are only available in the IBM offerings. Those value add components and functional areas are where we're spending most of our time and energy on, and that's where the real benefit of RAD comes from.

RAD 7.0, which has been available for over a year, includes comprehensive support for J2EE & Web Application developers, with support for pure spec compliant applications, as well as integration for all the WebSphere extensions - for example we don't just support JSF, we also ship and have outstanding support for the IBM JWL widget library; the latest version of JWL (which is only available with RAD) makes it fall-off-a-log easy to create an Ajax application, with no handwritten javascript at all (see http://webspherecommunity.blogspot.com/2007/06/simple-ajax.html for more details).

That said, simply providing spec level support is not really a differentiator today; that's why we donated the code we did to WTP. The RAD value proposition is it's ability to improve the productivity of developers across the entire development life cycle. Some examples:
  • Some other products provide simplistic support of UML, that requires iterative generation of java code, followed by import actions to keep the diagrams and code in sync. This round trip engineering approach was available back in Rational Rose, and is a long way from state of the art now. RAD provides much more than that - for example, we provide UML visualization, which allows you to view, edit, and update Java code using UML views. There's no separate model to get out of sync; you're editing the live code, but in UML.
  • All modern IDEs include support for database interaction and definition, but RAD has the benefit of working with the DB2 developers to provide exceptional support (for all major databases); RAD includes graphical views of your data topology, a SQL scrapbook, impact analysis tools, the ability to write user-defined functions (UDFs) & stored procedures, and phenomenal support for embedded SQLJ.
  • RAD has in-depth support for application profiling, analysis & testing; you can execute, monitor, and trace the flow and performance of your application, right out of the box.

Of course, we also have the benefit of working hand in hand with our IBM colleagues, to provide the very tightest integration with WebSphere. It's not hard to deploy an application to WebSphere Application Server, but only RAD includes copies of three versions of WAS, to simplify your unit testing on a "real" WebSphere server, at no additional cost. Because we actually embed the WAS server, we support both remote application deployment and local application deployment, which gives you better deployment performance because there's no copying of files necessary. RAD also includes complete support for WebSphere Portal Server, including creation wizards, views, and editors that enable you to develop, test, debug, and deploy portal and portlet applications.

When it comes to production application deployment, RAD includes an advanced Jython editor, designed to simplify the task of developing and testing WebSphere automation scripts. We also offer unique integration with the WebSphere admin console, allowing you to capture key actions in the admin console and turn them into the equivalent Jython script commands. Finally, there's an embedded Jython debugger, that will let you single step through the admin script, examine variable values, etc.

IBM remains strongly committed to RAD; the next version of RAD (7.5) has been available as an open beta since late last year; you can find more details here: http://webspherecommunity.blogspot.com/2007/11/rational-application-developer.html. As you'll see if you try this code, RAD 7.5 provides many compelling features that focus on developer efficiency such as JEE refactoring and quickfix operations, while offering enhanced integration with products from all IBM brands, but especially Rational, WebSphere, and DB2. As I said in my blog entry, I'm really pleased with the progress the team has made on RAD 7.5; even though this is just a beta, the code is great quality, the performance is good, and all early reports are extremely positive - come check it out!

Tim Francis,
WebSphere Tools & RAD Chief Architect

9 comments:

jense said...

Tim;

Thank you for your recent welcome to the party in the public sphere.

As you can undoubtedly appreciate, we choose our words very carefully when referencing companies that have more employees in their public relations department than all the employees in our organization. We are thereby careful to assure our public comments are neither misinformed nor misleading. Our statements are simply the reflection of several calls with our combined customers that are looking to upgrade to Websphere 6.1 and are having to make a number of design and runtime decisions, while being presented a multi-million dollar quote to move from WSAD to RAD. Taking out all the superlatives out of these conversation, they all boil down to the following sentiment:

"I'm tired of being told what to do, being locked into a single vendor solution and having to pay through the nose for it."

We hear from our mutual customers that they are not happy with the fact that they have previously paid several millions for WSAD (a few years ago). However, since WSAD end-of-life was effective as of September 2006 (http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/woolf?entry=wsad_5_1_support_ends), these companies are looking to implement a number of technologies (i.e. SOA, Ajax, ...) and web services standards (i.e. WS-N, WS-I BSP, WS-BA, ...) that are only offered through Websphere 6.1 and Rational 7.x To do so, they have to upgrade their application infrastructure to WebSphere 6.1 and development tools to Rational 7.x , all at a significant premium.

However, your blog suggests that these customers no longer have to pay for RAD 7 if they were upgrading from WSAD or an earlier version of RAD. If indeed this constitutes a policy reversal on the part of IBM that has not been made public until now, we know for certain that such a decision will make several of our combined customers incredibly happy - especially considering the tough economic times. We would like to be the first to pass on this information to them.

Second, I encourage you to re-read our press release and publicity materials regarding the availability of MyEclipse Blue. We never presented the Blue edition as a replacement for RAD. Rather, our strategy and messaging for MyEclipse Blue concentrates on providing developers the broadest developer technology tool coverage - including many technologies not available from RAD (See our feature list). In addition, we release MyEclipse at 10X - 15x the historical rate for WSAD or RAD. So, since MyEclipse is priced at 30x cheaper than RAD, our combined customers can easily divide their staff between MyEclipse and RAD based on design and run-time concerns and save a great deal of money at the same time.

No matter what, WebSphere customers are served to the fullest with the most appropriate tools for the job at hand, whether best served by RAD or MyEclipse Blue Edition. I don't see how any of this information is bad news to our mutual customer base.

-Jens
MyEclipse

Anonymous said...

Tim,

Free upgrade is good.

I honestly think RAD should be free. Any cost incurred in RAD could be charged aginst web sphere app server licensing costs.

I dont see a point in tightly coupling RAD & WAS versions [and charging for upgrades at either end].


RS Kumar

Anonymous said...

Jense, this is not a change in policy for IBM. Our organization started working with Visual Age for Java 3.5 7 years ago. Because we pay support we were given free upgrades to WebSphere Studio Application Developer 4. We have continued upgrading for free until we are now using Rational Application Developer 7.

The support fees, while not dirt cheap, are within reason for enterprise class tools. IBM has always been very good with upgrades ,and in some cases trade ins for new tools, when old ones are retired like Visual Age was.

I am following with interest, the development of MyEclipse Blue, but for now I think we'll stick with RAD.


Doug Olender

jense said...

Doug;

If you are really interested in what MyEclipse Blue Edition looks like in action, I would like to invite you to a free Webinar we are broadcasting tomorrow (Thursday the 21st).

Best of all: attendees will be offered a free one-year license of MyEclipse Blue Edition for attending and filling out a short follow-up survey.

We hope to see you there!

Best,
Jens

syed razool said...

how I can use the performance monitoring/profile tools on a was deployed web app using RAD 7.0? Please help me by sending the related URL to kulamrazool@gmail.com.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask Tim if RAD has dropped the Visualizer for C++ which was available in WSAD 6.0.. and, if so, why?
I have been looking at RAD 7.0 and 7.5, but the UML visualizer for C++ seem to be disabled.

Anonymous said...

I share the concerns about RAD in this forum. I don't blame IBM to create prodcut line for a sustainable revenue model. No doubt for WebSphere it is the best IDE. But definitely it is for rich companies (we can argue that WebSphere is also for rich companies). But I don't think it gives a good value per dollar spent because you need to spend more money to get better hardware to run RAD (check its hardware requirements), even with 4 gig RAM and latest processor the RAD is slow, it is always a year behind with respect to JDK version, JEE version, and support of new tools or frameworks.
To worst part is the upgrade process is painful. Since RAD is locked down with WebSphere, the IT department procures new version of RAD only when EOL of WebSphere used in the company is approaching. And I don't blame them as they have to shell out money to get next version of RAD. At the end the company loses because developer can't explore new features or trends as half of the time RAD will not support that. I wish IBM would spend more effort on releasing frequent new minor versions which will not cut deep into pockets.

Eric Gemme said...

We are in the System i arena where the entry version of WebSphere IDE used to be included in the development kit for years. Now IBM is changing their pricing model so we start to pay for our dev envrionment piece by piece. We will end-up paying over 5000$ per programmer while already had paid for dev licenses a long while ago. Software maintenance contracts (BTW the most expansive on the market) are supposed to keep us abreast the latest technology, but this time, with this pricing structure change, we need to pay just as we were new customer, while we've been around IBM for 30 years. This is very (with capital, underline, bold, blinking caracters please) FRUSTRATING. We actually feel betrayed by whom we gave all of our confidence for years. IBM offers some conversion programs to alleviate the weight of bucks, but this is only standing for the System i particular tooling (e.g. RPG or COBOL dev) therefore, far unsufficient. Currently, my rep is battling with IBM to get a special bid for RAD, but let's get logical: at 149$/year MyEclipse Blue is ridiculously affordable. Why this huge step in value while both RAD and MyEclipse deviver the same (at least mostly) thing. Is IBM gave away WDSc for too long and now trying to recover their investment. This is what I call: "Post dumping damage control". George Farr, the Rational Manager, has been asked to make the product line profitable, but why trying to make big money with fewer customers? Could maybe make more with cheaper products with a broader customer community, no? I believe so. IBM is completely disconnected from the SMB's reality where we have to make miracles with a pair of hinges and a knive. Microsoft has understood that a long while ago. Full feature Visual Studio is around 1500$. So why a supposingly competitive product costs three times MS alternative? MyEclipse is definitively appearing like our only solution.

jeckels said...

Eric;

Great note that encompasses a lot of people's current frustrations. This is precisely why we created MyEclipse Blue and are glad you are finding value.

Also of note, you may be interested to know that MyEclipse has recently partnered with Databorough to provide specific support moving forward for shops in the System i realm, as it appears you are.

We are happy to help you in any way during your transitory period. Please do not hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions, concerns or comments.

Best,
Jens
MyEclipse
jensATgenuitec.com