Borland JBuilder 2007: The Good, the Bad, and the New Features
In this article, I will look at the new version of Borland JBuilder 2007, an award-winning Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE) product that underwent a radical change with this new release. I will discuss new features and plug-ins and compare this new version with the previous JBuilder releases and with the free Eclipse WTP platform.
Many changes happened to both JBuilder and Borland since it released JBuilder 2006 in 2005. In 2006, Borland announced reorganization, as the result of which a subsidiary called CodeGear was formed. This new entity continued development and support of Borland development tools, whereas Borland solely focused on ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) solutions for the enterprise. As of this writing, revenue for ALM products and services for the third quarter of 2007 was $47.4 million and CodeGear (IDE) products and services revenue was $12.5 million. Therefore, this restructuring seems to have been a correct decision on the part of Borland's management.
The Past and Present of JBuilder
All the previous versions of JBuilder starting from 3.5 to X (and 2006) were written purely in Java and used a proprietary framework. Around 1999, JBuilder surpassed other existing IDEs on the market, such as VisualCafe, and became one of the best IDEs for Java development.
Figure 1: JBuilder 2006
However, after the Eclipse project was donated to the open source community in 2001, it started to rapidly gain popularity among Java developers, partly because it was free and partly because of its modular structure that allowed for other plug-ins to be easily developed and added. By 2005, Eclipse (and IDEs based on it such as MyEclipse, IBM RAD aka WSAD, and others) dominated the Java development community with about 65% of the market share.
Therefore, in 2006 Borland decided to rewrite JBuilder. Keeping the most important components, the core framework was switched to the Eclipse SDK and new plug-ins were added to accommodate new technologies such as EJB, ULM, Hibernate, Spring, and other enterprise Java development needs.
JBuilder 2007 was released with the following editions: Turbo, Developer, Professional, and Enterprise. Add-ons in JBuilder 2006 such as OptimizeIt, Profiler, and Code Coverage are now a standard part of JBuilder 2007. Turbo JBuilder 2007 is free, and provides the fundamental Eclipse development environment. JBuilder 2007 Enterprise Edition is the flagship product that has a complete collaborative development environment with graphical Rapid Application Development (RAD) tools, and graphical Web Services and EJB wizards. It is rumored that the intial porting of JBuilder to Eclipse was done by the Russian team that developed EJB Workbench and the UML LiveSource environments.
The Good, the Bad, and the New Features
JBuilder 2007 is definitely a revolutionary change for the product; it does not look anything like the previous version, and most of the main features have been ported to work on the Eclipse platform. For a developer used to Eclipse SDK, the transition should be smooth and the learning curve minimal.
The tool included many innovative features for RAD development such as new—EJB Workbench—graphical environment for EJB and EJB 3 development. Updated Web Services wizards, which allow developers to create robust services with little effort, are included in the visual environment. The new Design pattern wizard includes hundreds of patterns that can be generated and incorporated in the project without a lot of work. The new UML modeling (LiveSource) environment also has innovative features such as synchronization of the code between the graphical presentation and the corresponding source. Both are updated dynamically whenever the source or the graphics change.
Figure 2: JBuilder 2007–LiveSource environment
Two new modules, EJB Workbench and UML LiveSource visual design tools, are the two features that set JBuilder 2007 apart from the other Eclipse SDK-based IDEs. The other modules ported from previous JBuilder such as debugging tools—OptimizeIt, Profiler, and Code Coverage—also differentiate this product. The new IDE offers all of the necessary features for enterprise development with the support by "a trusted, turnkey solution provider."