Sun Microsystems is building a Java-based development kit for its StarOffice software to help corporate programmers customize desktop applications, a move that better pits it against Microsoft's dominant Office. The software development kit will be available in the middle of next year as part of a minor upgrade to the business version of Sun's StarOffice 6.0, said Joerg Heilig, director of engineering for StarOffice at Sun.
Business customers routinely automate tasks such as generating charts in a spreadsheet by writing individual macros, or small programs called scripts. Macros in Microsoft's Office, for example, are written with Visual Basic for Applications, a language that is simple enough for many people to learn and that lets them share scripts with colleagues. Microsoft Office product manager Simon Marks said customers can tailor Office to suit their needs. "The customer can use whatever development tools make sense, whether they want to use low-end, easy-to-use tools or much more complex languages," he said.
Sun's development kit for StarOffice, on the other hand, will be targeted specifically at business software developers who are already familiar with Java.
"Some companies want to be able to restrict (customization) because they want users to focus on their jobs and give them exactly the tools they need, not functionality that distracts them," Heilig said.
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News source: ZDNet