Oracle Revamps Java Database Tool

Oracle has revamped its tool for developing Java database applications into more of an integrated development environment.

Oracle has revamped its tool for developing Java database applications into more of an integrated development environment.

Formerly a lookalike to Borlands Jbuilder, which Oracle licensed in 1996, JDeveloper is now completely rewritten in Java itself and has more integrated modeling and code analysis features.

"Developing applications is now a platform game," said John Magee, senior director of JDeveloper marketing. Oracle attracts developers with its dominating presence in the database field, but it keeps them coding by integrating the database with Oracle9i Application Server and Oracle9i JDeveloper.

"Platform vendors have to deliver tools," Magee asserted. And integrated development environments will not have longevity in the marketplace unless they are associated with application servers, he added.

Silverstream Software is one of the few application server vendors that includes an integrated toolset, although IBMs WebSphere is tied to IBMs VisualAge toolset. And Sun Microsystems ties its iPlanet Application Server to its Forte for Java tools. But Oracles JDeveloper, however, now shows tighter and fuller integration than those alternatives, Magee claimed. While Microsoft does not support Java in its Visual Studio tools, Magee acknowledged that Microsoft is also a platform vendor with its emerging .Net languages and Web technologies for working with Windows.

Independent Java tool vendors, such as WebGain, are stepping up their tool upgrade efforts as well as Java gains in programmer popularity. Evans Data, which conducts a twice annual survey of North American developers, found in its September survey that Java had surpassed the combination of C and C++ in programmer use. Fifty-four percent of respondents said Java was one of the primary languages they use, compared to 51 percent for C and C++. Javas share had grown two percent since the March survey, according to Evans Data.

JDeveloper includes the ability to model the application in the same tool environment in which it will be developed. Oracle9i JDeveloper supports Universal Modeling Language, the characters, symbols and syntax that allow developers to map out requirements into a budding application. The previous version of JDeveloper did not support modeling.

Some of the best-known Java development practices, cited by Sun and other members of the Java Community Process in white papers and documents on their Web sites, have been incorporated into JDeveloper. "We adhere to those best practices" in the Design Patterns feature of the tool, such as mapping a connection from the database to a software object used by the application, Magee said.

In some cases, rapid application development features have been built into the tool, through the use of wizards and declarative features, where a programmer indicates what she wants to do and the code can be composed in background.

JDeveloper also now includes a code profiler, Code Coach, that can analyze a trial application and illustrate where its performance problems might lie. "You can accept or reject the results, just like a spell checker, but now that capability is built right in."

JDeveloper has support for many aspects of Web services, including use of Simple Object Access Protocol\for exchanging XML data between applications, Universal Description, Discovery and Integration for publishing directories of Web services and Web Services Description Language for describing services in those directories.

Oracle also coordinates JDeveloper for use with services available on its Oracle Developer Network Web site. A programmer can upload a trial wireless application to a server on the site, where it will be run to see if it actually works in a wireless server environment. Without the service, the developer must set up and maintain a wireless server of his own for testing purposes, Magee noted.

Building in performance checking capabilities through the facilities of Code Coach "is another big differentiator" between the JDeveloper and its competition, Magee claimed.

JDeveloper is available immediately and can be downloaded free from the Oracle Developer Network site and can be used to develop applications without charge. Once an application is deployed for commercial purposes, the $3,995 price tag kicks in, Magee said.