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JDJ Editors' Choice Awards

JDJ Editors' Choice Awards

The editors of JDJ are in a unique position when it comes to Java development. All are active coders in their "day jobs," and they have the good fortune of getting a heads up on many of the latest and greatest software releases. They were asked to choose three products from the last 12 months that they felt had not only made a major impact on their own development, but also on the Java community as a whole.

The following is a list of each editor's selections and the reason why they chose that product.

Joe Ottinger

WSAD 5.1
WebSphere Studio Application Developer is a comprehensive integrated development environment for visually designing, constructing, testing, and deploying Web services, portals, and J2EE applications.

WSAD 5.1 is IBM's beefed-up version of Eclipse, meant to put J2EE development into overdrive. While it has some odd quirks and is primarily aimed at WebSphere development and lock-in, it definitely shows off what Eclipse can be, given time and resources, and the WAS integration certainly enables rapid development on the platform. On the whole, I've been very impressed with WSAD 5.1 when compared to the Eclipse platform, and I find its quirks quite acceptable.

JUnit is a regression testing framework written by Erich Gamma and Kent Beck. It's used by the developer who implements unit tests in Java. JUnit is open source software released under the Common Public License version 1.0 and hosted on SourceForge.

Even if you don't buy into the entire test-driven development paradigm, it's very difficult to argue what a useful tool JUnit has proven to be in terms of providing verifiability for Java. It's been used everywhere, from system and unit testing onward. I'd be honestly surprised at any major project in use today that hasn't been using JUnit or something influenced by it internally.

Borland Optimizeit
Borland Optimizeit Profiler for Java supports the development of fast, scalable, and reliable applications, tracking memory and CPU performance issues throughout the development life cycle.

Optimizeit is a profiling tool from Borland, and in my opinion is excellently made. I find it very useful for zeroing in on performance issues in code, and producing artifacts that can be used to track performance over time. While there are other profilers in popular usage, I find that Optimizeit suits my needs best at the moment.

Kirk Pepperdine
Java Enterprise Editor

IntelliJ IDEA 4.0 from JetBrains
IntelliJ IDEA is an intelligent Java IDE intensely focused on developer productivity. It provides a robust combination of enhanced development tools including refactoring, J2EE support, Ant, JUnit, and CVS integration.

Earlier this year I commented on a discussion in which people were passionately speaking for their choice of IDE. Since the discussion centered on Eclipse and NetBeans, I didn't speak of IntelliJ. Instead I noted that a developer's relationship with an IDE is a very personal one. Now it's true that many (if not all) of the features found in IntelliJ are present in many of the other IDEs. That said, beyond a certain subset of features that are used 99% of the time, the others become curiosities. What is more interesting is the way in which these features are presented to the user. In real terms, how much time do I spend thinking about the mechanics of using the IDE as apposed to actually thinking about what I'm trying to achieve. If this were the only criterion, then IntelliJ would still be a great product. What really puts this product over the top is that it does not interfere with my ability to structure a project the best way I see fit as some other IDEs unfortunately do. It is these combinations of usability (or noninterference of my thoughts) that make IntelliJ IDEA 4.0 my choice of IDE.

HPjtune is a core component of the first generation of the reference platform Itanium 2 processor - HP-UX version that bundles HP-UX 11i v1.6 with essential HP-UX tools, compilers, and technical documentation into a single source to speed your next development project.

HPjtune is a tool that is offered freely by HP. It offers its users a simple visualization of the logs produced by garbage collection when the -verbose:gc flag has been set. Though there is enough information in logs to diagnose many memory utilization problems, much of that information must be massaged out of the raw data. HPjtune not only does a wonderful job of culling this information, it does a nice job of presenting the data in an understandable format. What makes this tool even more interesting is that if an HP JVM has produced the logs, you can use that data to run a simulation under different memory configurations. I have found the results of these simulations to be a fairly reliable prediction of how a particular configuration will perform in production. In this editor's humble option, HPjtune is an essential tool to have when you are trying to resolve memory problems.

Apache Ant is a Java-based build tool. In theory, it's kind of like Make but without Make's wrinkles. Instead of a model where it is extended with shell-based commands, Ant is extended using Java classes. Instead of writing shell commands, the configuration files are XML-based, calling out a target tree where various tasks get executed. Each task is run by an object that implements a particular Task interface.

What is there to say about Ant that has not already been said. It is YAT (yet another tool) that has proven itself time and time again. Ant has proven that you can take the most horrible activity you could describe, scripting in XML, and make it look like a work of art.

Karl Avedal
Core and Internals Co-editor

IntelliJ IDEA 4.0 from JetBrains
IntelliJ IDEA is an intelligent Java IDE intensely focused on developer productivity. It provides a robust combination of enhanced development tools including refactoring, J2EE support, Ant, JUnit, and CVS integration.

IDEA is simply the best development environment I have ever used. It meant a paradigm shift for my development when it arrived.

YourKit Java Profiler
YourKit Java Profiler is a new generation of profiling tools. With the help of YourKit Java Profiler, you can easily solve a wide range of CPU and memory-related performance problems.

For some reason, I really like Java profilers. I love JProfiler and I've used and liked Optimizeit a lot in the past. But this time I'm going to select YourKit Profiler. It still has quite a few bugs, but has the potential to fundamentally change how and when you profile your installed applications.

Java HotSpot Virtual Machine
The Java HotSpot Virtual Machine is a key component in maximizing deployment of enterprise applications. It's a core component of J2SE software, supported by leading application vendors and technologies. The Java HotSpot VM supports virtually all aspects of development, deployment, and management of corporate applications.

It's sort of ironic. When I first started using Java the biggest problem was the JVM. I loved the language, but the JVM was incredibly slow and easy to crash. After many years of trying to make a better JVM, Sun eventually succeeded, with help from competitors like IBM and JRockit making good JVMs that in many cases outperformed HotSpot. Today I would say that the JVM is one of the best things about the Java platform. It's now so good that new languages, like Groovy, choose Java as their standard runtime platform.

Joe Winchester
Desktop Java Editor

Swing 1.4.2 Release
The Swing toolkit is a fully featured UI component library implemented entirely in the Java programming language. The J2SE platform's javax.swing package uses the windowing functionality of AWT and the rendering capabilities of the Java 2D API to provide sophisticated and highly extensible UI components that comply with the JavaBeans specification.

The 1.4 performance improvements were great, and then with the inclusion of the XP look and feel in 1.4.2 this has been a huge rebirth for Swing. I get great feedback from customers and it's a huge boost toward helping Java remain and grow on the client.

Eclipse 3.0
Eclipse is an open platform for tool integration built by an open community of tool providers. Operating under an open source paradigm, with a common public license that provides royalty-free source code and worldwide redistribution rights, the Eclipse platform provides tool developers with flexibility and control over their software technology.

The M8 release is the one I'm using now and it's just incredible. The Java development tooling continues to impress me more and more each release. I was at EclipseCon in February in Anaheim and I felt this was the start of something very big. There is a lot of optimism and enthusiasm from developers across a wide set of companies and institutions, and a lot of the big names in software are moving toward Eclipse as being their foundation for tooling and beyond.

Standard Widget Toolkit is the software component that delivers native widget functionality for the Eclipse platform in an operating system-independent manner. It's analogous to AWT/Swing in Java with a difference - SWT uses a rich set of native widgets.

The Standard Widget Toolkit provides a rich, native cross-platform GUI toolkit. Recent improvements have included Swing interoperability, a control that uses the platform browser on each operating system (IE on Windows, Mozilla on Linux), as well as irregular-shaped windows, toolbar integration, and support for large datasets on trees.

Jason Bell
Contributing Editor

Eclipse 3.0
Eclipse is an open platform for tool integration built by an open community of tool providers. Operating under an open source paradigm, with a common public license that provides royalty-free source code and worldwide redistribution rights, the Eclipse platform provides tool developers with flexibility and control over their software technology.

It's been interesting watching this IDE mature over the east 12 months. There's still some way to go for the team but every release has some very cool features in it.

Jtest5 from Parasoft
Jtest is an Automated Error Prevention product that automates Java unit testing and coding standard compliance to help developers produce reliable code in record time. Jtest analyzes classes, then generates and executes JUnit-format test cases designed to achieve maximum coverage, expose uncaught runtime exceptions, and verify requirements that were expressed using Design by Contract.

This code coverage and testing tool has saved my programming life many times over. Autogenerating JUnit tests create a much more robust solution than any I could possibly put together. It costs a lot but I believe this money will be recouped in less than 12 months.

jEdit 4
jEdit is a mature and well-designed programmer's text editor that has been in development for over five years. The core of jEdit is primarily developed by Slava Pestov, and jEdit plugins are being written by a large and diverse team of programmers from around the world.

Another product that gets better from release to release. I've been doing a lot of JSP work with jEdit and it has yet to let me down. Once again it's the community effort with the plugins that makes the icing on the cake.

Calvin Austin
Core and Internals Co-editor

Project Looking Glass
In the Project Looking Glass prototype, windows displaying applications are no longer stacked on each other with flat icons and buttons to represent them; they are viewed in a 3D environment and manipulated as 3D objects. Project Looking Glass is moving beyond the boundaries of old environments to revolutionize the use of the desktop.

It is rare to find a product that grabs your attention like Project Looking Glass. Zooming into a mountain range to reach your desktop files, rotating stacks of windows with a wave of a mouse, and scribbling notes on the back of your browser - all simple and yet intuitive tasks. However, when you learn that this is all the work of a Java application, then you can't help but smile. Java on the desktop is back.

Tomcat 5.0
Tomcat is the servlet container that's used in the official Reference Implementation for the Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages technologies. The Java Servlet and JavaServer Pages specifications are developed by Sun under the Java Community Process.

Tomcat needs no introduction and is the well-respected workhorse of many Java application environments. The 5.0 release builds on that reputation with support for JavaServer Pages 2.0, the Java Servlet 2.4 API, and some nice performance improvements. If that wasn't reason enough to try the download, you can now monitor your faster servlets using JMX.

The Java Developer's Guide to Eclipse
Shavor, S., et al. (2003). Addison-Wesley.
Drawing on their considerable experience teaching Eclipse and mentoring developers, the authors provide guidance on how to customize Eclipse for increased productivity and efficiency and how to avoid common pitfalls.

Books about open source projects have a mixed record. Many suffer by being out of date by the time they are published or skim over difficult areas. Java Developer's Guide to Eclipse sets that bar high. It's easy to read, not afraid to tackle the more complex areas, and, although it's based on Eclipse 2.0, has many examples still relevant for current builds.

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JDJ News Desk monitors the world of Java to present IT professionals with updates on technology advances, business trends, new products and standards in the Java and i-technology space.

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Most Recent Comments
Calvin Austin 07/20/04 12:59:40 PM EDT

You can read my blog entry about the awards. It was a pretty tough decision, especially in the IDE space where there is now a very high standard and a lot of competition (I couldn''t make a choice between them myself). I would suggest making sure your favorites are in the readers choice nominations and then let the voting commence!

Erik 07/19/04 10:41:57 PM EDT

Well... you have to remember that everyone has there own opinion. JDJ seems to have become more of a Vendor''s journal than anything else in the last several issues, so I''m not too surprised at some items on the list.

Also, no one listed JDeveloper which is a little surprising. Their ADF framework is pretty solid and supports web or Swing clients. The 10g version is much improved.

P.S. Hey Christopher Stura... Multi-language support is a double edged sword. I''m a Java programmer... I only need it to do Java... everything else is just excess baggage. Besides, jEdit was on the list and it supports far more languages than you listed. Maybe you should check it out.

Christopher Stura 07/19/04 03:39:34 AM EDT

How can you even compare IntelliJ to Eclipse. I really don''t think there is another editor for java development that even comes close to what eclipse is capable of. With eclipse you can not only do Java, but C++, Perl, XML, XSLT, FOP and many more, plus the application is fast a free, there is not wonder that it is the most used development platform for java development.

Chris 07/16/04 08:59:00 AM EDT

Intellij vs Eclips ---> hands down.
Not only Intellij does things as many IDE''s do, it does it much better. The ease to configuration and ease to use make a huge differences.
Eclips will follow the pattern most of the IBM''s products,
become another giantesses, which will claims to be able to solve everything on the world, with gig tons of "plug-ins". Programmers will end up spending time do config the new plug-ins instead of doing their code. The normal cliches will frustrate the user with missing files from project, auto recompile file while saving or editing.... etc.

Sergio da Silva 07/16/04 08:25:16 AM EDT

Almost on target, I don''t know why HP JTune would get an award. HP is not even a major player in the Java space and a tool that only works with a specific processor/operating system even if it is free does not ammout to much.
I''ve never heard of IntelliJ IDEA 4.0 from JetBrains before and am pretty happy with Eclipse which from the description has everything IDEA has and is open-source.
I did not see any Java Web Services selected which is a shame since it is a hot topic nowadays.

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