JBuilder 9 is a surprisingly significant upgrade to Borlands exemplary Java development environment, incorporating project life-cycle management technologies acquired by the company since the last release of the product and also improving support for many application server platforms.
PRO: Offers diverse configurations at wide range of price points to meet enterprise and educator needs; supports Windows, Linux and Solaris; configuration management, team collaboration, design, UML visualization and code optimization tools are well-integrated into high-end Enterprise edition.
CON: Massive memory recommendation for Enterprise edition.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST IBMs WebSphere Studio
Oracle Corp.s JDeveloper
Only six months after the release of the capable but resource-intensive JBuilder 8, Borland Software Corp. has upgraded its premier Java development tool set with last months release of JBuilder 9.
Its a compelling upgrade that earns eWEEK Labs Analysts Choice distinction. Offered on Windows, Linux and Solaris in configurations priced from $999 to $3,500, the update features higher-level design tools, improved aids for project life-cycle management and expanded support for many enterprise application server platforms in addition to Borlands own Enterprise Server.
To our pleasant surprise, the Version 9 environment seemed significantly more responsive than Version 8 during our tests of the final prerelease code of the top-of-the-line Enterprise edition. This is a welcome discovery, since we were pained to observe Version 8s obvious need for a recommended half-gigabyte of memory. (See eWEEK Labs Dec. 23, 2002 review of JBuilder 8.)
When tested on a 700MHz Pentium III with only 256MB of RAM, JBuilder 9, in contrast, generally seemed to answer our commands with more alacrity. We noted, for example, a return to the immediate feedback that were used to receiving from JBuilder as it dynamically analyzed our code in progress and warned us of poorly formed expressions. We hope this marks a return to the Turbo Pascal tradition of impressively agile tools for application developers.
Even so, Borland continues to label the Enterprise version of the product as demanding a minimum of 512MB and a recommended 768MB of RAM, which is probably good advice for those who intend to use all its facilities described below.
Among enterprise developers, JBuilder 9 demands a newly respectful look from Java tool buyers who might have previously been impressed by IBMs WebSphere Studio. The new JBuilder release offers similar aids for laying out the entire framework of a complex application, using Enterprise JavaBeans components and other frameworks, in minimal time.
JBuilders approach to this process gave us more of a feeling of being in control of each successive step in the process, rather than trying to keep up with WebSphere Studios almost-too-helpful assistance.
The Enterprise edition now includes Borlands Optimizeit performance analysis suite as part of the package and integrates its code coverage, profiling and other optimization functions into the development environment. This integration means that performance issues can now be addressed side by side with other debugging tasks.
We could easily devote this entire review to the enhancements in this Version 5.5 update of the Optimizeit package, which also includes a thread-level debugger, as well as the profiling and coverage analysis functions already mentioned.
Like other JBuilder tools, Optimizeit does the work so that the developer doesnt have to. It reads and parses the same code that the developer writes, rather than requiring or inserting its own special tags and markers that reduce readability and complicate portability to other development settings.
Some of the most important, but also most difficult, aspects of Java debugging are dynamic in nature and resist detection by mere inspection of the code. By including Optimizeit in the Enterprise edition, Borland recognizes the need for Java to shed any remaining image of "productive for development but too slow in production" as the language continues to spread through all levels of the enterprise IT stack.
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 developers' technical requirements on the company's 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 company's 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.