Mainsoft is the latest development firm to offer a bridge between the worlds of Microsoft's .Net framework and Sun Microsystems' Java environment. The developer tools company has come out with a set of extensions to run .Net applications on IBM's WebSphere Portal server.
Mainsoft has updated its Visual MainWin for J2EE and released it as a Portal Edition that converts .Net intermediate code, MSIL, into Java bytecode which is then compiled and executed on the WebSphere server.
This allows .Net developers to keep working in the language they know and develop for Java platforms as well as .Net. In addition to developing .Net applications in Visual Studio, developers will be able to debug their applications while operating within the WebSphere Portal environment.
"Customers have been telling us that they want to be able to access any service on a portal, regardless of the language it's programmed," Yaacov Cohen, CEO of Mainsoft, told internetnews.com. "As an end user, I shouldn't really care when I get to my portal and sign on if I have C# apps or Java apps or VB.NET apps, I want to access all of these services regardless of language and I'm expecting the same level of service regardless of the service."
There are other third-party products designed to foster interoperability between an ASP.NET application and a J2EE portal, but the .Net apps are often "second-class citizens," as Cohen put it, because you don't get same level of support for .Net apps as you do native Java apps, like single sign-on.
Visual MainWin is only for IBM WebSphere, and there won't be a bidirectional effort to make Java code run on Sharepoint, Microsoft's portal server. It's a huge time and money investment, something Mainsoft doesn't have, said Cohen.
IBM provided some support to Mainsoft, although no engineering support, and two of its Premier Business Partners have teamed with Mainsoft to help customers get up and running. The TamGroup and Prolifics will cover the U.S. for Mainsoft, providing a recompile of ASP.NET applications into Java portlets on a fixed-time, fixed-cost basis, typically at a rate of 5,000 lines of code per day.