Rational adds to app-dev portfolio

PHILADELPHIA -- New products and a new initiative to standardize application development were the high points of Rational Software Corp.'s user conference here this week.

PHILADELPHIA -- New products and a new initiative to standardize application development were the high points of Rational Software Corp.'s user conference here this week.

The Cupertino, Calif., company announced Rational SiteLoad, new software for testing Web site performance. Slated to ship in October, SiteLoad is a browser-based tool written in Java that simulates Web traffic on an incremental basis to uncover site bottlenecks, Rational officials said.

Pricing starts at $15,000 for a license supporting 250 virtual users. A promotional offer of a free license for 50 virtual users is available on the company's Web site.

Rational also rolled out an initiative to create a new standard for application development. The goal of the initiative, called e-development Accelerators, is to create standards-based, pre-fabricated software solutions and automated tools to allow for a higher degree of reuse in software development.

Supporters of the initiative include Microsoft Corp., IBM, Com-ponentSource Inc. and Flashline.com.

The companies plan to propose a new specification to the Object Management Group, a standards organization in Needham, Mass. A preview of the spec is available at www.rational.com/eda/.

Rational also is working on technology called Unified Project Management that provides automated status reports and metrics for large software development projects. Officials did not say when the plan to release the technology as a product.

Other Rational announcements at its user conference included:

--Version 4.1 of its ClearCase software configuration management product, which includes better interoperability between Windows and Linux and faster performance. In late September, ClearCase will be more tightly integrated with IBM's Visual Age for Java 3.5;

--a new wireless application testing capability for its Rational Suite Performance Studio testing software;

--availability of Rational Rose 2000e, a visual modeling tool for Unix;

--availability of ClearQuest, a change and defect tracking tool, for Unix.

While Rational's mission over its nearly 20-year existence has remained the same -- helping customers build software more efficiently -- the Internet has changed the parameters of application development, said Tom Bogan, Rational's president and chief operating officer.

"Traditionally in software development, we traded quality for time. You can't do that today," Bogan said. "Every business in the world needs to build higher quality applications and needs to do it more rapidly."