Dick Wall and Dan Roberts, Director of Marketing, Developer Tools, finish their interview on Sun Java Studio Creator. See the first part of their discussion here.
Thresher Shark Plans
Q. Anyone can currently download the Reef Shark updates to Creator and see a preview of some of the features going into the Thresher Shark release of Creator coming up. Are there any more features that are going to be in Thresher than these preview ones, and what can you tell us about them?
A. Absolutely. I've already mentioned the next version of Java Studio Creator will be based on the 4.1 version of NetBeans, which is currently available. With the new NetBeans base, we'll be providing new features like direct support for version control, refactoring, multiple open projects, and a bunch of new editor enhancements. We're also working a great new set of JavaServer Faces components, which include an improved data table, a tree component, and a tab component just to name a few. These components go way beyond the standard set of what we provide today, and include better support for themes. Other improvements worth highlighting are:
- Better stability and performance with improved memory management.
- Refactoring has been implemented so that you can make global changes in your source code, propagating them throughout the application without altering program behavior.
- Binding components to data is more intuitive, with the ability to access database information using our exclusive Data Provider objects from within the "Bind to Data" dialog box.
- Now when you drag web services and EJB methods from the server navigator onto data components, the tables are populated with placeholder data.
- We're bundling sample applications, previously available only on the web, directly in the product. So far they include: JAAS Authentication, Jump Start Cycles, and Travel Center.
- You can now create new projects based on your own project templates. Any existing project can be used as a template making it convenient to develop new applications derived from a baseline project of your choosing. Once you've created one or more project templates, they appear next to the standard project types in the "New Project" dialog box.
- A "Save As " action has been enabled in the Server Navigator so you can save projects under a different name.
- The Page Fragments feature has been improved, especially around grid layout editing. Now the grid defaults to a certain width and height, and also contains placeholder text.
As you can see, there's a lot to look forward to in the near future.
Post Thresher Shark Plans
Q. Following the Thresher Shark Release, what plans do you have for new features further down the road for Creator?
A. We've said from our very first public unveiling as Project Rave, that while we would initially focus on Web applications, we certainly would not limit ourselves to the Web as we are truly looking to create a complete standards-based visual application development tool, not just a Web tool. What does that mean? We know developers still build rich desktop clients in a big way (see next question for more on this), and with billions of J2ME devices out there we have a great opportunity to improve developer productivity around mobile and embedded devices as well.
We're also going to be integrating all the visual design functionality we have in Java Studio Creator today into our enterprise tools so developers who are both building back-end services and applications can take advantage of the rapid client creation tools Creator provides in one toolset.
Other GUI Technologies
Q. Do you have plans to support any other GUI technologies than JavaServer Faces (JSF) with Java Studio Creator? For example, Swing (although there are many Swing builders out there already) or perhaps more interestingly, stick to the Web UI focus but enrich it by integrating XUL (the Mozilla/Firefox rich XML GUI system)?
A. Yes, while the first release and upcoming Thresher release looked at Web applications and refining the experience around building them using JavaServer Faces, we are definitely looking to expand beyond only Web applications. We are looking at adding a complete set of two-way visual design tools for Swing-based rich client development, and while we agree there are many currently out there, most are generally based on tools designed when Swing was new. We believe with the recent advances like the Mattisse GUI builder in NetBeans, changes in the core J2SE platform with things like Tiger (J2SE 5.0), Java Web Start (JNLP), and JDesktop Network Components (JDNC) we can create a very productive set of tools for building real rich clients that even start to rival what Microsoft is up to these days.
I also mentioned Mobility in the last question and we have a team actively working on building out visual development tools starting with the CLDC profile. If you look at the Mobility Pack for NetBeans 5.0 beta today, you can see the base of what we are working on, providing a visual designer for creating the UI and flow of the application on a wireless device, then being able to test across a broad set of device specific emulators.
But that doesn't mean we're done with Web applications either. Better support for DHTML, scripting, and Struts/Shale connections/interaction are all on the drawing board. When you've got someone like Craig McClanahan on your team, improving the Web development experience will always be a priority.
Q. In an effort to dramatically and quickly increase the number of ready-made components and controls in Creator, have you considered making Applets easy to include on Web pages, and perhaps even provide some level of integration with the JSF controls in Creator and its event model with those applets?
A. It's currently possible to integrate any applet inside Java Studio Creator and the JSF event model. Sun has chosen to focus its efforts in the control space to build JSF components. In future releases, as we add more explicit applet support, we'll be looking to make this process simpler and leverage our work in building Java rich client support.
Q. What is Sun doing to encourage and nurture the essential community of third-party control manufacturers for JSF and Creator? In particular, have you considered making a sub-site within the Creator support site that can serve as a market place both for developers to request the kind of components they would like to see, and for vendors to show their wares?
A. That sounds like a great idea, one that is worth considering. For now, interested component vendors should join the Sun Partner Advantage program to keep in stay current with such opportunities in the future: http://partneradvantage.sun.com.
Q. As an open source developer in my spare time, nothing turns me off faster than a 30-day trial; by the time I have learned the technology, I have to pay for it in order to use it to build free software. Would Sun consider releasing Creator with a free-for-non-commercial-use license, allowing open source developers to benefit from it and then bring their experiences to the workplace where Creator could then be bought and licensed?
A. Funny you should ask this, we recently made Java Studio Creator and our enterprise Java tools (Sun Java Studio Enterprise) available to anyone that registers for a FREE Sun Developer Network membership at JavaOne Tokyo. We want to lower all the barriers to allow developers to build great Java software, and we're making it very easy for any developer now to pick up our tools and be productive. Commercial support contracts and training is available for a fee for those customers that want to know they have Sun's complete support during their development process.
Editor's Note: To learn about the announcement of Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8 at JavaOne Tokyo see Dick's article at www.developer.com/java/ent/article.php/3562966.
About the Author
Dick Wall is a Lead Systems Engineer for NewEnergy Associates, A Siemens Company based in Atlanta, GA that provides energy IT and consulting solutions for decision support and energy operations. He can be reached for comment on this and other matters at email@example.com. He also co-hosts the Java Posse with Tor Norbye and Carl Quinn, a podcast devoted to Java News and Interviews, which can be found at http://javaposse.com.