Netscape will announce a visual scripting tool called "Visual JavaScript" this week at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco. The tool, formerly code-named "Palomar," is aimed at corporate developers who want to assemble applications with pre-built HTML, JavaScript, and Java Beans components. ActiveX components will be accessible through Java Beans. Visual JavaScript supports team development and will include a JavaScript debugger and extensible third-party tool API.

"I think the hope here is that by making it easier to use you expand the developer base in much the same way that Microsoft did with Visual Basic, only to the next level," said Eric Brown, senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "It's programming meets authoring."

A "preview release" of Visual JavaScript will be posted to the Netscape Web site next week. The product will cost US$995 when it is released later this year