Seeking to tap into the huge developer market (as in millions of developers) for Microsoft Visual Studio, Micro Focus this week unveiled four application lifecycle management (ALM) tools at the launch of Visual Studio 2010 at the Microsoft Visual Studio Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.
In addition to the VS2010 launch, the software giant unveiled the final version of .NET Framework 4, a key update to its managed framework that delivers a host of underpinning technologies for .NET app developers. Also released was the final version of Silverlight 4, Microsoft's rich Internet application platform.
UK-based Micro Focus, a member of the FTSE 250, provides application modernization, testing and management software mainly to enterprise companies. It is one of dozens of vendors that support Visual Studio 2010. Leading supporters include CollabNet, ComponentOne, Intel, NetApp, and Novell.
These new tools signal Micro Focus’ entry into the ALM space and come about nine months after the vendor’s acquisition of Borland and the application testing/automated software quality business of Compuware.
“With this launch, Micro Focus is extending its capabilities beyond its core competency -- the COBOL world,” says Dave West, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Micro Focus is providing tools that make it easier to bring COBOL to .NET and enhance the application lifecycle management expertise of developers at the same time.”
Microsoft, which delivered Beta 2 of the Visual Studio 2010 last October, is positioning the platform as the IDE that will support Windows 7, Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Azure, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.
Visual Studio 2010 focuses on three core goals for developers: creativity, simplicity and quality, according to a recent article on this site, Visual Studio 2010 Rewrites the Developer Experience.Microsoft’s overarching intent for Visual Studio 2010 is to enable developers to use their existing skills to model, code, test, debug and produce applications faster, cheaper and better than before.
In addition to built-in tools for the most popular Microsoft applications, the IDE includes new drag- and-drop bindings for Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. The IDE also comes with links to ASP.NET, unified modeling language, Expression, and multicore.
Micro Focus’ new products -- Micro Focus Visual COBOL, Micro Focus SilkTest, Micro Focus DevPartner Studio and Micro Focus Analyzer Express -- integrate with Visual Studio, enabling developers to create, analyze and test the code very efficiently, says Richard Pegden, head of product marketing for Micro Focus.
“Our tools simplify the challenges developers face every day in modernizing mainframe apps and in testing and developing web-based apps,” he says.
Big Impact on the Tool Market
Pegden believes Visual COBOL will have the biggest impact on the tool market because of the sheer volume of COBOL-based apps that run businesses worldwide.
“This tool will give developers a low-risk opportunity to extend core, COBOL-based business processes to the Windows and .NET platforms without having to rewrite their applications,” he says.
Pegden adds that the tool’s main benefits are: faster times to build, extend and maintain applications; and better UIs and application quality. Micro Focus SilkTest, a tool the vendor inherited with its acquisition of Borland, gives QA professionals what Pegden describes as “the best test automation functionality” for Visual Studio 2010.
SilkTest allows developers to automate the testing process of enterprise software applications via the application’s GUI. The tool enables developers to detect defects early in projects, and reduces repetitive manual testing, producing more qualitative testing.
Pegden says SilkTest support a broad range of application technologies, including AJAX, Flex and Web 2.0 technologies, Java, .NET and client/server.
A third tool, Micro Focus DevPartner Studio, enables developers to automatically debug, analyze, test and tune applications and will deliver enhanced visibility into the inner workings of applications being developed within Visual Studio 2010.
The final tool in the group, Micro Focus Analyzer Express for Visual Studio, aims to help developers accelerate their day-to-day maintenance activities.