What would be more useful than an invention that saves time? Some of our product finalists claim to do that and the product devotees swear by them.
I am biased, so I don't get to judge the winner, but I will tell you a bit about each of the nominated products and which product is the winner. One thing all of these tools have in common is that they clearly show that there is a desire to improve the software design and development process and that developers crave larger building blocks and bigger constructs.
While our industry quietly awaits the next quantum leap in software development that will lead us forever away from the tri-chromatic, rectilinear windows, the tools in this category—Development Tool of the Year for 2005—will help you design and build today's software in convenient and useful ways.
The finalists are:
- MyGeneration, a code generator from MyGeneration Software
- Gentleware AG's UML modeling tool Poseidon for UML
- DevelopGuidance's rapid application development tool RADvolution Designer 2005 Professional Edition
- Sun MicroSystem's visual designer, the Sun Java Studio Creator
- Eclipse's agnostic IDE for everyone, Eclipse
Our first finalist is a homage to The Who (or Green Day) song of the same name. MyGeneration is among an increasing number of excellent free and open source tools. MyGeneration is a code generator for .NET-based development that was nominated in multiple categories. Doug Monsky says, "It saved 500+ hours of development time."
MyGeneration generates source code in C#, VB.NET, JScript, VBScript, and various forms of SQL. With its professional user interface and standardized, broad-platform code generating capabilities, the only thing this finalist lacks is a strong marketing campaign to bring it greater prominence.
Poseidon for UML
In the 1940s, Preston Tucker introduced turning headlamps, seatbelts, and several other innovations to the automotive industry. Unfortunately, for financial reasons, marketing, and legal wrangling, only 50 Tuckers were ever made.
Poseidon for UML is an innovative modeling tool that incorporates features that visual developers will be familiar with to bear in this UML modeling tool. While Poseidon for UML isn't this year's winner, you are likely to see elements in this tool incorporated in better known and marketed UML tools. With careful marketing and product positioning, Gentleware may give other UML modeling tools some stiff competition.
RADvolution Designer 2005 Professional Edition
DevelopGuidance has done a good job building their rapid form design product for .NET, but the product has tried to be too clever with its name. There is nothing revolutionary or evolutionary about RAD. DevelopGuidance might want to take a page from eBay.com, Amazon.com, Monster.com, or Starbuck's playbook and come up with a better product name.
All in all, this product runner-up deserves an honorable mention for doing a good job at managing the layout and organization of WinForms. However, DevelopGuidance may be disappointed to discover that it is barely on the edge of the visual design evolutionary curve, because rumor has it that Microsoft's next version of Visual Studio will offer significant headway for visual programming.
The First Runner Up Is: Sun Java Studio Creator
Our first runner-up placed first overall in another category and, with a very strong second place of 41.9%, Sun's Java Studio Creator shows just how strong the Java market is.
Sun Microsystems has the inertia (with Linux), marketing forces, and technical know-how to provide real competition for other development suites such as Microsoft's Visual Studio or Borland's JBuilder.
Of more import than Java Studio's $99 entry price, support for JavaServer Faces, JDBC, and Java API for Web Services is that Java Studio is one more entry in the ubiquity that is visual designers for programmers. According to Stephen Pinker (in the Innovators Dilemma), this ubiquity suggests that we are gearing up for a quantum jump in technology and the cycle will start anew around the next generation of software development tools. While my crystal ball is still cloudy, I suspect the next generation of development tools will revolve around larger, more complex constructs that are simpler to use, require less code, and defer to rapid application building versus rapid application programming.
Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, and Borland have all demonstrated a historical ability to take a strong innovative lead.
And the Winner Is: Eclipse
Our winner is Eclipse, a cross-platform Java IDE, which makes me suspect that the voting was intentionally coordinated by vi and emacs fans.
The biblical tale about the Tower of Babel tells us that mankind (or, in this case, nerdkind) working together can perform miraculous feats. Setting aside the equally biblical wrath part, if Eclipse gets software developers working on disparate platforms working together, and helps bright and creative people stay energized, it has earned its place as this year's winner of the Development Tool of the Year.
About the Author
Paul Kimmel is a software architect for hire, computer book author, contributing columnist to developer.com and other eMagazines, and the President and co-founder of the Greater Lansing area Users Group for .NET (glugnet.org).