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Project Rave - First Thoughts

Project Rave - First Thoughts

Yesterday, Sun made an early access version of Studio Creator (i.e., "Project Rave") available. I downloaded it for both of my normal development platforms (the SPARCle, running Solaris, and Windows) and gave it a go.

On first impressions, Creator is meant to be a Web application development tool, from the looks of it. There's no mention of distributed APIs outside of the servlet environment and web services, although Web services do seem to be pretty deeply integrated. Further, the kind of Web applications it's designed to create are, specifically, JSF applications.

This is good and bad. I'm not a proponent of JSF, yet, because I can see horrible, horrible things from it. Sun apparently sees it as a competitor to MS' WebForms, which to me sounds like they're trying to compete against something that just isn't that good, in someone else's arena. However, it's technology people at Sun are pushing, hard, and that means - for better or for worse - we're probably stuck with it for a while.

Creator's JSF focus is really not that bad. It definitely makes using JSF as simple as its proponents have promised - no longer are you rushing from element to element trying to get interactions configured. Navigation seems to be fairly easy to get right, although I've not yet seen (or developed) complex navigation systems yet.

The initial documentation is very, very simple. As this is an early access release, that's okay. The docs gave me an idea of what could be done, which is enough. I haven't seen any kind of portal or portlet integration yet, although maybe I'm not looking at it the right way.

The standard deployment environment is Sun's App Server 8. This is amusing, in a way - AS8 is a huge, huge package, with all kinds of capabilities, and using it as the deployment environment is overkill in a big, big way. It's also very slow to start and deploy with - and for a development environment, this is not good. You want something like Orion for this, with its second-long deployment of applications - not a fifteen-second deployment cycle.

Plus, TDD seems to fall by the wayside. I'm waiting to see what Dan North, et al, think of this stuff, because there is no test cycle for it.

Overall, the environment itself feels like an early access release. It's a great initial stab at questionable technology. That said, maybe that's enough to build some serious momentum - which will make the technology worthwhile, in a positive feedback loop. I don't know that I'm ready to use it personally yet, because I haven't seen how to do some of the things I want to do in the environment itself yet - it looks like it's good for JSF development, and barely okay for Java development - it's doable, but not really actively good.

So far, it looks like a standalone version of something that should be a plugin for NetBeans and, given the JSR for IDE plugins, other editors as well. (I'm drooling at the thought of something like this in IDEA, for example.) We'll see how it goes, and I'll keep playing with it.

More Stories By Joseph Ottinger

I am a software evangelist for GigaSpaces technologies, as well as a writer and musician. I've been the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal and TheServerSide.

GigaSpaces Technologies is a leading provider of a new generation of application platforms for Java and .Net environments that offer an alternative to traditional application-servers. The company's eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) is a high-end application server, designed to meet the most demanding business requirements in a cost-effective manner. It is the only product that provides a complete middleware solution on a single, scalable platform. XAP is trusted by Fortune 100 companies, which leverage it as a strategic solution that enhances efficiency and agility across the IT organization.

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Most Recent Comments
Ramón Jiménez 04/14/04 08:59:54 PM EDT

"I''m not writing as a nonpartisan reviewer. I''m biased in favour of myself [...]"

"That said, it''s not fair to ME to expect my voice to be muted in my own editorials and reviews, which aren''''t official renderings of JDJ or any other community, but simply my views on things."

I failed to see these points. I apologize.

In a sense, I agree with your comments in that Eclipse is quite generic. Which I happen to like and take advantage of. I was a bit dissappointed that you had to say it the way you did, for I felt it was not necessary to do so in order to make your point.

But I have reconsidered my stance. JDJ is a great place to get *facts* regarding Java. This may as well mean getting personal opinions from practitioners. Thank you for that. After all if I want to be evangelized about Eclipse (which I obviously don''t need :)) I should look somewhere else! And this is a good thing.

I accept your position and guess we''ll have to agree to disagree, in that I don''t think of Eclipse as a "fully tricked-out Yugo". Not I that I should make such a fuss of it anyway :)


Joseph Ottinger 04/14/04 09:23:48 AM EDT

Well, we have a few choices there. I''m not impressed by Eclipse as a platform or as an IDE; I do think it''s fairly good at many things, excellent at a few things, and really bad at others (in various ways). These comments apply to Eclipse as a platform and as an IDE.

As far as providing solutions and interesting perspectives (thank you, BTW), well, I certainly try to focus on being interesting and relevant - but I''m not writing as a nonpartisan reviewer. I''m biased in favour of myself, and I don''t think it''d be valid for me to pretend to like something I don''t especially care for, or pretend to dislike something I do enjoy quite a bit.

It''s not really fair for the products I don''t like, I guess, because they don''t get "influential" support. (Am I really that influential? I don''t think so.) That said, it''s not fair to ME to expect my voice to be muted in my own editorials and reviews, which aren''t official renderings of JDJ or any other community, but simply my views on things. I try to be honest. Sometimes that means being honest about things I don''t care for. C''est la vie.

For the clarity of record, BTW, most of the vendors with whom I have contact have been really appreciative of honesty. Borland, for example, who hasn''t always been kindly treated, has been very receptive to honest dialogue about possible failings in their products - which means that they get *better*, which is a very good thing for all involved.

Ramón Jiménez 04/14/04 08:54:45 AM EDT

Mr. Ottinger: Understood. But in your piece "Looking for Instant Solutions?", you have also classified Eclipse as "jack-of-all-trades, master of none". It seems as if you have serious issues with Eclipse :) Bear in mind, it is only a platform, not an IDE per se. It is a tool upon which we are all invited to contribute. I respect your point of view, it''s just that I think you are an influential writer and as such I humbly think you should focus on providing solutions and interesting perspectives. After all, like you said a couple of months ago, can''t we just get along? :)

Joseph Ottinger 04/13/04 11:18:57 AM EDT

Mr. Jiminez, please note that I use WSAD daily, so I'm not unfamiliar with Eclipse's strengths and weaknesses. I was making that particular comparison on context, not as a rote statement.

Ramón Jiménez 04/13/04 11:15:04 AM EDT

Mr. Ottinger: this article, as others you've written, is excellent. However I keep taking issue on your disdain for Eclipse. True, IDEA may be the best thing after sliced bread. But it is not fair to compare Eclipse to "a fully tricked out Yugo". The fact that Rave is easy to use - or intended to be so - doesn''t make it a Porsche. On the other hand, Eclipse is a *framework*, not an IDE. The internal structure is excellent and the plugin architecture is very good. This alone is highly responsible for the massive adoption Eclipse has experienced, both from developers like me and from companies providing their own development environments, like many RTOS sellers. I would like to see Rave succeed, but it will be a sad day when our main goal is to appeal to VS.NET developers. VS.NET is a good tool and probably the best .NET has to it, but we can do better.

Joseph Ottinger 04/11/04 02:56:25 PM EDT

Bartok, Eclipse is virtually imcomprehensible to those VS.NET developers. They want to draw web forms and attach events to them, not "write java." From that perspective, comparing Rave to Eclipse is like comparing a Porsche - although early in development - to a fully tricked out Yugo.

bartok 04/11/04 02:31:56 PM EDT

I fail to see how another non-free Java IDE is gonna make Java more attractive to VS.NET developers (since that''s the stated target market). People are much more likely to download Eclipse for free and use that.

Joel Parker 04/11/04 02:30:06 PM EDT

Rave is great, well worth trying for Java apps--
but the homepage introduction is horrendous.

powerful technologies that can be
used productively and effectively.

leverage the power of the Java platform

Can someone at Sun get a clue about this?
I''m a Java developer (and former Sun employee)
and I don''t need to read words like "leverage"
and "powerful technologies" and buzzwords.

Instead: tell me what the tool is,
what it does-- ideally with screenshots--
and how it fits with my other Java tools.

Cheers, Joel

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