Sun Microsystems plans to discontinue its Sun Java Studio Enterprise and Sun Java Studio Creator developer tools and encourage users to move to the NetBeans IDE, the company has revealed.

Version 6.0 of the IDE is being released on Wednesday.

Migration programs have been launched to move users of these tools over to NetBeans. At NetBeans' page of migration tips for Java Studio Creator and Java Studio Enterprise 8.1, Sun listed reasons to migrate. They include NetBeans' advanced EJB and Web services support and greater application server backing, as well the packaging of all NetBeans developer tools into a single IDE, Sun said.

The company will continue with the tools for a while, honouring support contracts in place, said Greg Sporar, NetBeans technology evangelist at Sun.

"It's not the kind of thing [where] you just turn the lights out on a particular day," Sporar said. The discontinuances are being done because users want a single tool and framework that can accommodate combinations of functionality; NetBeans serves as that platform, said Sporar.

"NetBeans is the common component. It is the base of all Sun software development tools," Sporar said.

Sun Java Studio Enterprise is for enterprise application development, while Sun Java Studio Creator offers a visual environment for building Web applications. When launched in 2004, Sun Java Studio Creator was heralded as a way to make Java development easier. But now, developers can get its capabilities in NetBeans, Sporar said.

"What we're instead doing is we're taking those features that made Web application development easier, and we're making them available to a wider audience," he said.

While Sun used to sell the two tools, they, along with NetBeans, have been offered for free of late. Another tool, Sun Studio, for building native applications in C, C++, and Fortran, will remain, said Sporar.

An analyst agreed with Sun's plan.

"It makes sense for Sun to put its entire IDE focus around NetBeans right now as it continues to battle for mind share with Eclipse," said analyst Raven Zachary, research director for open source at The 451 Group. "Having pursued a multitiered IDE strategy, especially with open source, was a mistake, and Sun has corrected [it]."

NetBeans 6.0 is the latest release of the open source IDE that is a rival to the Eclipse tools platform. Version 6.0 features support for programming with the Ruby language and JavaScript.

Developed and released by Sun and the NetBeans community, version 6.0 also provides features for C, C++, and Ruby on Rails. What began as a Java IDE has now been extended to other languages.

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