By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2004-05-03 Print this article Print

Its hard to remember a time before the advent of drag-and-drop application development. In many Java tools, however, a facade of component assembly has done a poor job of concealing the reality of cumbersome and easily corrupted code behind the scenes.

That gap is closing in a more convincing and coherent fashion with the arrival this spring of Sun Microsystems Inc.s JavaServer Faces technology. Comprising classes that represent components, along with facilities for rendering those components and handling their events, JavaServer Faces will soon come to market in the convenient form of Suns Java Studio Creator application development environment.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of Java Studio Enterprise 6
Click here to read eWEEK Labs review of NetBeans 3.6 Previewed in April as early-access code and expected to ship at the end of next month, Java Studio Creator does many things very well. However, the beta code we tested did these things at a leisurely pace on anything less than a multigigahertz processor with at least a half-gigabyte of RAM.

eWEEK Labs found the Java Studio Creator environment to be competitive with other drag-and-drop rivals, including Borland Software Corp.s JBuilder X Developer for Java and Microsoft Corp.s Visual Studio .Net 2003 for the various .Net languages.

During tests, Creator paced the state of the art in synchronizing multiple views of work in progress. For example, when we made a pop-up menu choice that enabled a user-interface behavior, the environment immediately displayed the associated code on a nearby property sheet.

We also were able to build database queries in a visual navigator window while previewing resulting changes to corresponding SQL commands. Various UI options, such as representing a table entry by a command button, were readily chosen from dialog boxes rather than requiring tedious construction and coding.

At some point, actual business logic will require writing some Java code, and the Java Studio Creator environment includes a source code editor with pop-up error tips and responsive code-browsing aids. Cross-referencing between the visual UI builder and the lower-level Java methods of GUI control behaviors was convenient and obvious.

The price of this generous behind-the-scenes support is a demand for equally generous hardware. Beta code or not, a laptop with 256MB of RAM should not need 23 minutes to make an initial deployment of a simple application or more than 3 minutes to make a simple change to a window title and rerun the application.

Developers should invest in adequate memory—good advice for any modern tools, as half-gigabyte appetites become more common. Were also confident that Sun will invest some effort in optimization before Java Studio Creator faces paying customers.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEKs Developer & Web Services Center at http://developer.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
Be sure to add our eWEEK.com developer and Web services news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel