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The Best Things In Life Are Free: Sun Java Studio Enterprise 8.0

  • November 9, 2005
  • By Dick Wall
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At JavaOne Tokyo, Sun announced the launch of Java Studio Enterprise 8.0, its flagship enterprise IDE. In fact there were many announcements and details shared about it, and this article is intended to make some sense out of it all, and introduce some of the news.

The Price

The headline news has to be that the new Java Studio Enterprise 8 is now free, with a free SDN registration. In fact, Java Studio Creator has likewise been made free to anyone with an SDN membership.

Java Studio Enterprise 7 retailed in the US for $1895, so this is a pretty big deal. This effectively removes the last pricing barriers left for developers wanting to use any of the Sun Java development tools. NetBeans has always been free, but Java Studio Creator used to require a $99 per year subscription. Now, all three tools are available for nada.

Also, the Sun Application Server can also be used and deployed, even commercially, for free. In fact it has recently also been open-sourced in the form of the glassfish project.

So effectively developers can now download and use the complete Sun Java Development stack for free, for anything from simple web UIs through to full enterprise level application server deployments. Free makes a very compelling argument, as does the integration between the products (which is slick and easy).

So, it's free, but what else is new, well quite a lot actually.

Based on the NetBeans 4.1 Platform

Like the early access of Java Studio Creator 2, the new Java Studio Enterprise is now built on top of the NetBeans 4.1 platform. The 4.1 platform is a big improvement over the 4.0 and earlier platforms, and it is also good that the entire Sun Java tools suite is standardized on it as a platform.

The cosmetic differences are what hit me first. Like Creator EA 2, this is a good-looking UI that makes a great first impression:

Click here for a larger image.

If you have used the early access Java Studio Creator 2 you will see immediate similarities in the IDE. I like the welcome screen anyway as it gives you somewhere to go when you first fire up the IDE, but the inclusion of news from the SDN is a nice touch. An initial glance did not make it clear if this information could be obtained from a different RSS feed or not, but if it could that would certainly be a useful place to integrate the RSS bugs feed from the latest bugzilla.

The screenshot also shows the new project wizard, which gives you options about the kind of project you wish to create. Again this is familiar to NetBeans or Java Studio Creator users, the user experience is nice and consistent across these tools in general.

The NetBeans 4.1 platform also brings some other advantages which will be touched on later.

New Features

There are several big new features and improvements to existing features that are worthy of note.

UML Improvements

The main focus for improvement in this release seems to be with regards to the UML features. Full UML 2.0 compliance is claimed (although the specification is still not fully set yet). Sequence diagrams are included, and incremental improvements in the other diagram types are also in evidence, both cosmetic and usability. For example, color usage features heavily in the diagramming; not a huge deal, but it adds a new dimension to UML usage of color for visualization and grouping.

Click here for a larger image.

A colored class diagram (warning, do not try to simulate a power plant using this model :-) )

The UML capabilities also include import and export using XMI (mainly intended for rational integration, but XMI should be standard enough to allow other usage). Drag and drop for diagram creation and manipulation is also a useful feature (and also, dare I say, a required one these days).

Click here for a larger image.

A sequence diagram (with synchronous and asynchronous messages).


Unless you have been living in a cage you will probably be aware of the superb profiling features now available in the latest profiler offering for NetBeans (it is a favorite topic in the Java blogosphere right now, for example Romain Guy, blog talks about using Eclipse and NetBeans side by side, with NetBeans being used for the excellent profiling it offers.

Anyway, this excellent Profiling module has been added to Java Studio Enterprise 8, and has even been augmented by a load testing tool which integrates with it. This works by allowing you to record an interaction session with the server, and then replaying it simultaneously from a configurable number of simulated users, allowing you to soak test a server and try to ensure deep seated hard to find threading bugs don't show up under heavy load.

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