• Subject: Re: Java questions
  • From: "Glenn Holmer" <gholmer@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 23 Dec 1998 09:09:00 +0000

On Tue, 22 Dec 1998 22:12:19 -0800, Gary L Peskin wrote:

>Does anyone here have experience with the various Java IDE's:  Visual
>Age, JBuilder, Cafe, VJ++?  I'd like to commit to one and am hoping to
>short circuit an evaluation of my own.
>If you have experience with one or more of these tools, please let us
>know the plusses and minuses.

Visual Age has a reputation for being difficult to learn; I don't
know myself, as I just got 2.0 Professional and installed it a
couple days ago.  Looks like it will do everything but give you
a haircut and a shave once you figure out how to use it.  It is
also the only Java IDE I know of that is released on more than one
platform (Win32 and OS/2).

Visual Cafe I used for a week in a Java RMI course I took recently; 
I would die and go to hell before using it again.  I never saw 
anything so counter-intuitive (but of course that's a personal view).

An interesting development in this area is the appearance of a couple
of IDE's *written in Java* (the IDE itself, that is).  Check these out:

  NetBeans Developer 2.0 (www.netbeans.com)
  Simplicity for Java (www.datarepresentations.com)

NetBeans is free for non-commercial use, but is still a little rough
around the edges.  The user interface is all Swing widgets, very sexy.  
Extremely configurable.  Easily imported the AS/400 Toolbox beans.  
Very resource-intensive, 64M is not enough (even Linux swaps a lot).
Their development plan for the near future is very ambitious, 
including bundling the Cloudscape OO database.

Simplicity is very nice, but I haven't yet evaluated it personally.  
I saw the author (Carl Sayres) demo it at Warpstock '98 (the premier 
OS/2 gathering, for those who are not in the know: www.warpstock.org).  
It has a lot of code-completion technology (a "Code Sourcerer" generates 
code interactively based on your responses to various prompts).  Carl
was showing a demo where he wrote a text editor within minutes without
coding a single line.  It uses standard AWT widgets (not Swing) for its
own display, but does support the coding of programs that use the Swing 

I would like to see this trend continue (and I think it will): it seems
so stupid to be coding this platform-neutral language but having to 
restrict your development platform to whatever the IDE is written in.

In any case, my advice to *beginning* Java programmers is *not* to use
an IDE, but to code by hand using a text editor and the JDK.  There is 
no substitute for this if you want to learn the language.  If you keep 
a web browser open with the  JDK/Swing API docs, you can really be quite 
productive.  If the IDE generates all the code for you, what makes you 
a Java programmer?  Use one later, once you can code simple Java programs
without looking at the docs.

Glenn Holmer                          gholmer@weycogroup.com
Programmer/Analyst                       phone: 414.263.8827
Weyco Group, Inc.                          fax: 414.263.8808

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