Visual Age

Developer(s) IBM
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in Multilingual
Type Software development
License Proprietary

VisualAge was the name of a family of computer integrated development environments from IBM, which included support for multiple programming languages. VisualAge was first released in the 1980s and is still available in 2011. VisualAge was also marketed as “VisualAge Smalltalk” and IBM has stated that XL C++ is the 'follow on' product to VisualAge.[1]

Early history

VisualAge was born in the IBM development lab in Cary, North Carolina, which was established in 1984 and had responsibility for application development tools. The EZ-VU dialog manager product, a personal computer derivative of the user interface elements of the ISPF 327x product was one of the first products in this family. The lab also had a group which was one of the early adopters of object-oriented programming technologies within IBM using an internally developed language called ClassC to develop applications with more sophisticated graphical user interfaces which were just starting to be widely available.

Eventually, the availability of usable implementations of Smalltalk for IBM PC-AT class machines allowed IBM advanced technology projects to experiment with Smalltalk. At about the same time, visual interface construction tools were coming up on the radar screens. Smalltalk research projects such as InterCons by David N. Smith of IBM, and Fabrik by a team at Apple led by Dan Ingalls were building interactive graphical applications built from composition of graphical primitives. Higher level construction of user interfaces was evidenced by other tools such as Jean-Marie Hullot's interface builder first done in Lisp and then evolved to become the Interface Builder tool in NeXTStep, and later Mac OS X, which allowed for building user interfaces by WYSIWYG composition of UI widgets which could be "wired" to each other and to application logic written in Objective-C. The original prototype which led to VisualAge was an attempt "to make something like the NeXT interface builder"[2] within the Smalltalk/V development environment. By the time VisualAge was released as a product, much more emphasis was placed on visual construction of application logic as well as of the user interface. This emphasis was in part due to the "positioning" for "strategic" reasons of Smalltalk as a generator rather than a language within IBM's System Application Architecture.

Name brand

The name VisualAge was the result of a contest between the members of the development team. After the initial release of VisualAge/Smalltalk the name VisualAge became a brand of its own and VisualAges were produced for several different combinations of languages and platforms.

Languages (not every language is available on every platform listed):



Most of the members of the VisualAge family were written in Smalltalk no matter which language they supported for development. The IBM implementation of Smalltalk was produced by Object Technology International which was acquired by IBM and run as a wholly owned subsidiary for several years before being absorbed into the overall IBM organization.

VisualAge for Java was based on an extended Smalltalk virtual machine which executed both Smalltalk and Java byte codes. Java natives were actually implemented in Smalltalk.

VisualAge Micro Edition, which supported development of embedded Java applications and cross system development, was a reimplementation of the IDE in Java. This version of VisualAge morphed into the Eclipse Framework.

Various members of the family have been replaced by products in the WebSphere Studio family of products. As of 2009, the original VisualAge product continues to be promoted by IBM as “VisualAge Smalltalk”.[3] In 2005, Smalltalk specialist Instantiations, Inc.[4] acquired a worldwide license to VisualAge Smalltalk, and offers an “enhanced product” VA Smalltalk.[5][6] The C, C++ and Fortran compiler on AIX, Linux and z/OS are renamed as XL compiler series.

See also


VisualAge - Smalltalk

  • IBM Corp., IBM, (1994). “IBM VisualAge (printed paper bound retail hardboard box)”. . IBM Corp. Part Number 14H0969 and lid Part Number 30H2314 Product Number 17H7495 Bar code: 087944096085
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (Spring 1995). “Smalltalk resource catalogue”. . IBM Corp. (96 pages) Product Number G325-0813-01 Part Number 30H2238
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “Development guide”. 1st edition. (250 pages) Product Number SC34-4495-00 Part Number 14H0295
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “Programmer’s reference”. 2nd edition. IBM Corp. (458 pages) Product Number SC34-4493-01 Part Number 14H0297
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “IBM Smalltalk”. 2nd edition. IBM Corp. (172 pages) Product Number SC34-4491-01 Part Number 14H0296
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “Installation guide booklet”. 2nd edition. IBM Corp. (48 pages) Part Number 14H1071
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “Programmer’s guide to building”. 2nd edition. IBM Corp. (149 pages) Product Number SC34-4496-00 Part Number 14H1070
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (October 1994). “User’s Guide and Reference”. 2nd edition. IBM Corp. (642 pages) Product Number SC34-4490-01 Part Number 14H0922;

IBM VisualAge for COBOL Standard is “Year 2000 ready” and Requires: Warp Version 4.0 plus FixPak 1 or Windows NT 4.0 plus Service Pack 3

  • IBM Corp., IBM, (1997). “IBM VisualAge for COBOL Standard (printed retail card box)”. Version 2.1. IBM Corp. Product Number P4301938 Bar Code: 1264301938000104 Part Number 4301978
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (1997). “IBM VisualAge for COBOL Getting Started on Windows Manual”. IBM Corp. (130 pages) Product number GC26-8944-01 Bar Code: GC26-8944-01 Part No. 4301981
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (September 1997). “IBM VisualAge for COBOL Getting Started on OS/2 Manual”. IBM Corp. 2nd Edition. (156 pages) Document Number GC26-9051-01
  • IBM Corp., IBM, (April 1997). “Resource Catalogue for IBM COBOL Family V 1”. Release 4. (44 pages) Product Number GC26-8488-03 Part Number 4226010

External links

  • Description from Portland Pattern Repository
  • VisualAge Enterprise Suite
  • VA Smalltalk at Instantiations
  • VisualAge for Java Tips and Tricks
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