BEA Systems has demonstrated a prototype of WorkSpace 360, its forthcoming SOA tool set.

"We're moving towards having the ability to do metadata-driven development," said Bill Roth, vice president of BEA's Workshop Business Unit. In the future, developers will spend most of their time creating metadata that describes the application and how it behaves, "rather than a bunch of sentences that end with semicolons," he said.

"There will always be the need to write code, there will always be the need to do the lower-level stuff. But I think we can do better," Roth said.

The heart of WorkSpace 360 is called WorkSpace Central, a set of tools designed for developing and managing applications built using BEA's upcoming SOA 360 platform. Scheduled to be introduced starting next year, WorkSpace 360 is designed to bring business analysts, architects, developers and IT operations executives together in a shared workspace.

WorkSpace 360 will cover BEA's entire product lineup, including a mix of rich-client tools based on Eclipse and web-based versions. "It starts potentially with AquaLogic and leveraging AquaLogic business-process management. There then will be a piece which we've previously called AquaLogic Composer, which will evolve into a bunch of tools, including a service assembly modeller," Roth said.

The service assembly modeller, which is based on the SCA (Service Component Architecture) specification developed by BEA and IBM, gives users a view of how different services are connected and how they communicate, Roth said.

The service assembly modeller can scan a set of services available from a registry or a data-services platform and display the connections that exist between them. The result, as demonstrated using a prototype of the tool on Roth's laptop, is a flow chart of available services, including SCA notations for each service.

"What you'll be able to do ultimately is [click the] right mouse button on the links and annotate them," Roth said, noting these annotations will be saved to the metadata repository. Developers and other team members will then be able to access the annotations, he said.

The service assembly modeller and other WorkSpace 360 tools are expected to be available during the first half of 2007. "Maybe sooner," Roth said.