IBM's Rational Software unit is planning to launch a new open source project in June which officials say is designed to help IT organisations improve collaboration among globally distributed software development teams.

Danny Sabbah, general manager of Rational Software, compared the Jazz programme, which will reach users through its Jazz.net website, to the Eclipse Foundation open source community's role in providing standards and techniques for improving integrated development environments.

The Jazz.net site will support a community of developers and offer access to industry standard specifications, and to open source code that can be used to build visualisation tools, dashboards, instant messaging applications and other tools for improving communication among dispersed developers. Developers can determine on the site which standards they "need to establish requirements that will allow [them] to be globally distributed," Sabbah said. "The site can also help them "understand how test cases need to change whenever [their] requirements change," he said.

The site will also allow its users to propose changes to industry development standards, Sabbah said.

"We want to start a conversation with the rest of the broader software development community much like we did with Eclipse," Sabbah said. "Jazz will start doing that but also will manifest itself around the notion of collaborative, concurrent software engineering."

In addition to targeting ever-more globally distributed software development teams, the new project also aims to support the collaboration need by teams using and building service-oriented architectures (SOAs), Sabbah said. Developers can use the standards and tools on the site to help communicate changes that they are making to an SOA architecture blueprint, and they can benefit from the community feedback available in an open source project, he added.

"If I can get a piece of code written and start to expose it to potential consumers quickly and get feedback from them, there is a better shot at reuse [of the code]," he said. "If I am going down a service-oriented path, I absolutely need to involve and promote an understanding of the granularity or interfaces of the services I am defining to the community that will consume those services."

Rational also plans beginning in 2008 to embed some of the Jazz capabilities into their existing line of development and application lifecycle management tools.