By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-02-14 Print this article Print

Suns Netbeans-based JSE 7 achieves the most transparent interaction that weve seen among UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagrams and source code. Any change to diagram or code is immediately and clearly reflected in other views.

The product was released in December at a per-seat price of $1,895 for a perpetual license with renewable maintenance or $5 per employee per year for sites using Java Enterprise System.

Sun has gone the extra mile to enable intuitive browsing and reorganization of diagrams. UML views retain familiar editing behaviors. Adding a message between two entities on a diagram, for example, triggers the code completion tips that developers expect to see in a source code view.

We felt the same freedom in JSE 7 that we would feel while laying out an application on a whiteboard, rather than mentally shifting gears between text and diagram modes.

Teams may become addicted to Suns development-oriented instant messaging facility, with a syntax-aware editor and collaborative editing tools integrated into the workbench. Long listings or outputs can be sent, without the message-length restrictions that hamper lightweight IM systems.

When another developer is editing a shared file, affected lines are highlighted and guarded in other team members windows to prevent collisions while enabling simultaneous work in different sections of the code. Sun officials promise to expand support for XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)-based run-times; messaging security can be configured using HTTPS (HTTP Secure) and SOCKS Version 5. The system is easy to use and could quickly make converts of those whove never before found IM compelling.

Refactoring capabilities in JSE 7 are good enough to be worth the effort of using them.

Wed be happier, though, if we could get rid of the need to click the mouse in a source file after a refactoring operation to enable the Undo command. If we hadnt dug into the documentation to discover this requirement, wed have thought that these operations were not "Undo-able," but any affected file can be restored to its previous state.

We were surprised to find that we could reproducibly crash the development environment, with a java.lang. ClassCastexception, by attempting to factor out a simple print statement into a method. This forced us to restart the environment before we could continue. We hope Sun is addressing these and other maturity issues.

Stress-testing of a teams complex efforts is aided in JSE 7 by unusually capable instrumentation and load-generation features. Graphical views, updating in real time as tests progressed, gave us an excellent picture of where code spent its time—and where a development team might therefore need to focus its efforts.

Click here to read Labs review of IBMs Rational Web Developer 6. Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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