Sun Goes Out on Development Limb with New Java Tools

New Java tool initiatives in open source, component-oriented development and high-end projects put Sun's credibility on the line.

Sun Microsystems Inc. finds itself lately in growing agreement with Microsoft Corp. on interoperability goals and with IBM on the significance of open-source offerings. Its good news for developers that Suns new sociability is taking tangible shape in its trio of new or updated Java tool sets.

In a three-month span, beginning last month and ending in June, newly software-centric Sun will give developers substantial signs of its aspirations and its capabilities in supporting open-source platforms, empowering component-oriented developers and taming multitier complexity for high-end projects.

Sun provided eWEEK Labs with engineer-supported access to the shipping versions of its high-end Java Studio Enterprise 6 suite, along with the open-source NetBeans 3.6 foundation (from the Sun-sponsored for that suites integrated development environment. The company also provided us with an advance look at the early-access version of its midlevel Java Studio Creator, the release of which is planned to coincide with Junes JavaOne conference in San Francisco.

/zimages/3/28571.gifReview: Java Studio Enterprise 6
/zimages/3/28571.gifReview: NetBeans 3.6
/zimages/3/28571.gifReview: Java Studio Creator Early Access

Our tests show that NetBeans 3.6 adds productivity aids of the kind that used to distinguish premium-priced commercial tools. The NetBeans 3.6 foundation gets Java Studio Enterprise 6 off to a strong start, although Suns ambitions for point-and-click server configuration in that suite were not yet fully realized in the version we tested.

Java Studio Creator demonstrates how far Java has come in the much-desired direction of drag-and-drop development. The shortfalls in capability and performance encountered during eWEEK Labs tests are significant but not alarming for a product still in beta.

Sun is daring greatly by putting itself to so many tests from notoriously demanding developers. Its credibility as an enabler of the Java platform is on the line, but our tests suggest that it will survive the challenge.

Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at

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