Back to article Product of the Year 2003 Results

February 3, 2004

We asked you to choose the products that helped you to do your job effectively. wanted to recognize the technologies and products that significantly influenced the work done by programmers. In addition to the existing nine categories, this year we added an Open Source category to reflect the influence those products have on the computer industry. Last years results held more surprises than we expected. We were not sure what to expect this year. Overall, hundreds of products were nominated.

The nominations were narrowed down for a final voting. The finalists were presented and the voting took place in December to determine the winners within each category. In January the results were tallied and the winners were determined!

This year the computer programming market saw just a few major new releases. Our winner's list has three repeats and fewer surprises than last year's contest. That may be a reflection of the computer industry today. There have been numerous announcements for numerous future releases this year, but few new significant releases themselves.

Without further delay we congratulate the winners of the Product of the Year 2003:

Technology of the Year

The technology category covers a wide area. Technology is a broad category, so it is no surprise that the finalists covered standards, general technologies, a framework, a platform, and more.. In 2003, however, it popular choice was that the wireless 802.11 has had the biggest impact on the industry.

With an entry point of less than $100 to add wireless 802.11, it comes as no surprise that this technology moved to the forefront in 2003. 802.11 has also proliferated due to its implementation within hotels, restaurants, and other public places. In fact, there are now web sites such as that are dedicated to showing where such hot spots exist.

802.11g and other 802.11 wireless standards receive the Product of the Year 2003- Technology of the Year.

The Technology of the Year finalists were:

  • BEA WebLogic Platform
  • Blogging
  • Eclipse
  • Java Card
  • NetBeans Platform
  • Web Services Interoperability (WS-I) and Basic Profile 1.0 (BP1.0)

Development Tool of the Year

The tool in this category is the meat and potatoes of a developer's arsenal. This is the tool that they rely on the most to complete their work. It is not a surprise that the finalists in this category included the high profile companies such as Sun, IBM, and Microsoft.

This year we have a tie. Bradley Jones, Executive Editor of EarthWeb's Software Development channel, stated "The voting for the Development tool of the year was just too close to call, thus we have to give it to both Sun and Microsoft!"

This year Microsoft released a new version of their Visual Studio .NET tool. This new tool included a number of features such as the integration of Visual J#, the ability to create mobile applications in much the same way as desktop and web applications, better ISO standards compliance with Visual C++ .NET, the inclusion of a Visual Basic upgrading wizard, and much more.

The other winner, Sun Java Studio was recognized for a number of its key features as well. It delivers a complete accelerated development environment based on a Model-View-Controller based application framework and associated tools, supporting Enterprise tier features including EJB and Web Services interaction models, necessary for larger full-scale deployments.

Sun Java Studio (formerly Sun ONE Studio) and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 receive the Product of the Year 2003- Development Tool.

The Development Tool of the Year finalists were:

  • BEA WebLogic Platform
  • Borland C#Builder
  • Computer Associates Advantage Plex
  • Compuware DevPartner Studio
  • IBM WebSphere Studio v5.1
  • JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA

Enterprise Development Tool of the Year

In the Enterprise Development Tool category the finalist were from three major companies, although one, Eclipse, is an open product. One interesting tidbit this year was the nomination of two product subscriptions. The MSND Universal Subscription from Microsoft and the IBM developerWorks Toolbox Subscription form IBM were both heavily nominated and both are finalists.

Although it was too close to call for the general developer tool of the year, Visual Studio .NET 2003 was the clear winner of the top position in the Enterprise Development tool category.

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 receives the Product of the Year 2003- Enterprise Development Tool.

The Enterprise Development Tool of the Year finalists were:

  • BEA WebLogic Platform
  • Eclipse
  • IBM developerWorks Toolbox Subscription
  • IBM WebSphere Application Developer
  • MSDN Universal Subscription
  • Sun J2EE
  • Sun Java Studio (formerly Sun ONE Studio)

Development Utility of the Year

XML is prevalent in Web services and stand-alone applications today so it only makes sense that a XML editor would be nominated for the Development Utility of the Year. Not only was it nominated, but one has also won the Development Utility of the Year category.

XMLSPY 2004 by Altova is an enterprise level tool that allows developers to design, create, and debug XML. It had an advantage over other products in that it is used by both Java and .NET developers as well as database developers.

Some of the features that set XMLSPY apart from similar tools is its Web services support, code generation, XML mapping, programming-language support and .NET integration.

xmlspy 2004 receives the Product of the Year 2003- Development Utility.

The Development Utility of the Year finalists were:

  • Borland CodeWright
  • Crystal Decisions Crystal Reports
  • CVS 1.10.8
  • Visual SlickEdit

Best DBMS or Related Technology of the Year

This year we have a repeat winner. In many ways the win here can be a nod towards the practice of open source software as well as for the database technology itself. MySQL AB's MySQL database is an enterprise grade database serving a base of 4 million installations. Some of its bigger name users are Yahoo, Associated Press, and NASA. The biggest differentiation this product has over it competitors is the open source base. While MySQL is backed by a for-profit company that sells warranted commercial versions, on-line support, and professional services, it is the input from the developer community that makes a substantial difference. Those differences are displayed in the feature set, code quality and performance.

MySQL AB's MySQL receives the Product of the Year 2002-Database-Related Product.

The Best DBMS or Related Technology of the Year finalists were:

  • Embarcadero ER/Studio
  • IBM DB2 Universal Database
  • InterSystems Cachi
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2000
  • Oracle 9i Database
  • PointBase Micro Edition

Wireless Development Product of the Year

The number of development tools in the wireless area continues to grow. Additionally, many of the past development tools have been modified to target mobile devices as well. While some products and platforms seem to be getting less attention (such as Symbian and Openwave), others seem to be getting hotter (such as J2ME).

With Java dominating as the development platform for mobile devices, it is no surprise that a Java toolkit took the winning position for the Wireless Development Product of the Year for 2003. Sun's Wireless Toolkit 2.1 includes advanced features for mobile development including MIDlet signing, certificate management, integrated over-the-air (OTA) emulation, push registry emulation, and WMA emulation features for SMS and CBS messages.

Sun's J2ME Wireless Toolkit 2.1 receives the Product of the Year 2003- Wireless Development Product.

The Wireless Development Product of the Year finalists were:

  • Borland C++BuilderX
  • CA Advantage Plex for Distributed Systems
  • IBM WebSphere Everyplace Access
  • Nokia Developer's Suite 2.0 for J2ME
  • Sybase's SQL Anywhere Studio Development Edition v 9.x
  • Visual Studio .NET 2003

Web Service of the Year

The Web Service of the Year category is one that we consider a little unique. This is an area where there are tools, standards, and also actual services. The nominations included all three areas. The finalist also included all three areas. In narrowing the finalist down to a winner, however, it was decided that a service and a standard would share the honor. The Web Service would receive the Web Service of the Year 2003 honor and the WS-I Standard would also receive the recognition as the Web Service Tool/Standard of the Year for 2003 honor.

The winner, however, is the Web Service. This service is available to the public and is indicative of how a company can create and use a service to help drive its business. The web service allows other businesses as well as individuals tap into the information on the web site. This gives the ability to incorporate book and other product information direction into ones applications or sites by tapping into a set of standard interfaces.

This category was expanded into two winners. The Web Service Interoperability Interface Organization has been named the Web Service Tool/Standard of the Year 2003. This organization is creating standards to allow the interoperability of platforms, operating systems, and programming languages. While this is an organization rather than a standard, its impact on standards and on the ability for web services to succeed is growing. Web Service receives the Product of the Year 2003- Web Service of the Year and
Web Services Interoperability Standard (WS-I) receives the Product of the Year 2003- Web Service Standard/Tool.

The Web Service of the Year finalists were:

  • BEA WebLogic Workshop
  • Cape Clear CapeStudio 3
  • Grand Central Communications Business Services Network
  • IBM WebSphere SDK for Web Services (WSDK) 5.1
  • IBM WebSphere Studio
  • Oak Leaf Enterprises Mere Mortals .NET
  • WebMethods Integration Platform

. NET Tool/Add-in of the Year

With a new release, it is no surprise that the 2003 release of Visual Studio .NET won this category.

An honorable mention to Borland C#Builder is also deserved. Borland's release of C#Builder was the leading .NET Tool/Add-in after Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003. Borland's C#Builder is a complete integrated development environment for doing .NET development.

Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 receives the Product of the Year 2003- .NET Tool/Add-in.

The .NET Tool/Add-in of the Year finalists were:

  • Borland C#Builder (top, non-Microsoft .NET Tool/Add-in)
  • ActiveState''s VisualXSLT
  • Crystal Decisions Crystal Reports 9
  • Dundas Chart for .NET
  • InstallShield DevStudio Version 9

Java Tool/Add-in of the Year

It was the NetBeans IDE that was chosen as the Java Tool or Add-in for this year. NetBeans began as a student project. It was purchased and further developed by Sun and then released to the Open Source community.

There have been over 1.8 million downloads since the June 2003 release of the 3.5 version. NetBeans IDE 3.5.1 was released in August of 2003. Sun is still a sponsor of NetBeans, which explains part of its popularity. The IDE's tie to the NetBeans Platform and the Sun Java Studio products. Today, NetBeans has a strong base of 100 partners and over 24,000 registered developers contributing to its development.

NetBeans IDE 3.5.1 receives the Product of the Year 2003- Java Tool/Add-in.

The Java Tool/Add-in of the Year finalists were:

  • BEA WebLogic
  • Borland Together ControlCenter
  • Compuware OptimalJ
  • Eclipse
  • ej-technologies Jprofiler
  • IBM WebSphere Application Developer
  • IntelliJ IDEA
  • Oracle9i JDeveloper
  • Parasoft Jtest 5.0

Open Source Tool of the Year

This was a new category for the Product of the Year. The winner of this category is a platform that has caught on big with Java developers. Eclipse is an Open Source platform originally funded by IBM to replace Visual Age for Java. Eclipse is now overseen by, which is currently comprised of 49 companies working together to growth the Eclipse platform. While IBM is still involved with Eclipse, the product is about to transition to an independence status.

The Eclipse platform uses the Plug-in Development Environment (PDE). It is this ability for the IDE and platform architecture to allow developers to employ plug-ins to extend the platform's capabilities that make it so popular. There are currently over six hundred plug-ins available to developers. As a rich development environment with such a multitude of plug-ins, it is not a surprise that it is the favorite of many developers.

Eclipse receives the Product of the Year 2003- Open Source Tool.

The Open Source Tool of the Year finalists were:

  • Apache Tomcat 4.1.2x
  • Hibernate
  • Mono Project
  • NetBeans IDE 3.5.1
  • PHP

In Conclusion

The staff at would like to thank all the readers for their nominations, feedback, votes, and other support. There are a number of great products available to developers. is proud to be able to continue to provide its readers with information on the products and technologies that are impacting developers. Following is a table summarizing the winner in each category.

Once again, congratulations to all of the finalists as well as to the winners.

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