New Oracle Tool Aims to Ease Java Development

JDeveloper 10g adds visual capabilities

The developers who write order management applications for Associated Wholesalers Inc. decided last September to test a beta version of Oracle Corp.'s JDeveloper 10g.

By November, they were engrossed in heavy-duty development of service-oriented applications to replace the mainframe-based systems they had been using for over 20 years, according to Les Morton, product manager of the order management applications.

"Bear in mind, none of us had any Java programming experience," Morton said. "We also had no idea what J2EE is."

That's exactly the sort of reaction that Java tools vendors such as Oracle have been hoping to get from developers new to Java. They have been working to make their tools easier to use in hopes that non-Java programmers will be attracted to their development environments over Microsoft Corp.'s rival .Net approach.

Productivity and ease of use are typically associated with Microsoft's tools, while Java and especially J2EE development are often viewed as more complex.

But Oracle's JDeveloper 10g, released last week, is one of a collection of new tools that vendors hope will start to reverse that image. Rob Cheng, product marketing director of Oracle's application server and tools, cited the drag-and-drop capabilities in JDeveloper 10g's visual Struts page-flow modeler and a visual Web-page editor as important steps in the right direction.

Cheng also noted that JDeveloper 10g's support for the Unified Modeling Language is intended to help developers think through complex designs before they start producing code.

The new tool's Application Development Framework takes the models from the tool and "implements all the hard stuff underneath that the non-Java experts wouldn't want to code themselves," Cheng added. He said ADF has prebuilt runtime libraries that will reduce the amount of code that developers need to write.

ADF will run on any J2EE application server and has been certified to run on BEA Systems Inc.'s WebLogic and the open-source JBoss, according to Cheng.

"No other tools vendor with a productivity framework can claim that their framework will run on any J2EE application server," Cheng said. "They're all tied to their application servers."

Although Oracle aims to attract general developers with the tool, analysts said they expect it to hold the greatest appeal for users of Oracle's application server and database.

Indeed, one reason Associated Wholesalers decided to go with the tool was that it already used Oracle's database server and Internet development suite, Morton said.

But Morton also stressed the attractiveness of the data-binding capabilities in ADF and ease of development with JDeveloper. "The real selling point was that it allowed us to maintain the architectural principles of our projects," he said. "We wanted to have a service-oriented architecture for our system. The data-binding framework allowed that."

Mark Driver, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said the code-centric JDeveloper 10g eases development for medium- to large-scale projects, but Oracle still has no offering in the "J2EZ" class, such as BEA's WebLogic Workship and Sun Microsystems Inc.'s upcoming Java Studio Creator, to target the traditional Microsoft audience.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon