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The Kids Are All Right

Posted by editor on July 14, 2006 at 3:30 AM PDT

Are we really tool-dependent?

Let's face it: one of the most popular knocks against Java complexity, particularly EE's complexity, is the question of tools. Namely: is it wrong for something to be complex, if that complexity can be hidden or managed with tools?

After all, once again we have EE complexity being bandied around as a fatal flaw in the article Analysts see Java EE dying in an SOA world. But for a lot of people, this complexity is managed by tools, specifically IDE's, that manage relationships, generate code, etc. Is that a bad thing? Well, what's the standard of value? Is it programmer productivity? If programmers can be more productive with tools than without, is that a bad thing? Do we need our libraries to always be hand-codable, at least in theory? Do we think someone is going to come in and take Eclipse and NetBeans away from us? And aren't there other programming frameworks that are popular because of their tooling? Where's the complexity argument against Microsoft's Visual tools or Apple's XCode?

Maybe there's more to the EE complexity story, but time and again, I hear the same argument thrown at EE: it's so complex that you have to use tools, and that's a bad thing. Do you buy either of those premises? Is there an argument without either or both of them?

While this topic is a fresh thought, let me put it out there as the topic of the latest Poll, which asks "How dependent are you on your IDE?" Cast your vote on the front page, then visit the results page for results and discussion.

In Java Today,
the eighty-sixth issue of the JavaTools Community Newsletter is online, featuring news from community projects, and announcements of six projects that have joined the community. It also has a tool tip on how to use Maven 2 to create a project web site.

What does the future hold for Java SE? Is it to be anything more than the
basis on which to build EE (and its enterprise counterparts/rivals, like
Spring)? Where is Desktop Java going? Daniel Steinberg has taken a look
at the history and prospects for Desktop Java and he sees the best hope
not in open-sourcing it, but in letting someone else develop it, someone
who better understands end-user desktop applications. Take a look at his
opinion piece, Outsourcing Java SE, and see who he thinks should take
the reins of Java on the desktop.

The Java Web Services and XML community home page points out the blog entry Kernow 1.4, A Graphical Front End for Saxon, Written in Java 1.5 Now Available, noting that "it's
intended for anyone who currently uses Saxon to process directories of
XML and would benefit from caching, or who uses Saxon from the
command line and gets fed up typing in paths each day."

Cay Horstmann digs into Web Start and finds Certified Insecurity in today's Weblogs. "I used Java Web Start as a 'poor man's installer' for a Java client app that allows students to check their homework assignments. The app needs 'all permissions', so I simply signed it with a worthless self-signed certificate. The Web Start security dialog is complete gibberish to 99% of end users, which works in my favor. Something is wrong here. Should the JNLP API be less convoluted, so that it is easier to live in the sandbox. Should it be less of a hassle for an individual to get a real certificate?"

Contininuing his desktop series, Evan Summers offers another installment, Swing and Roundabouts 3: Framewarez:
"We might use the spreadsheet paradigm for our Swing application, where our 'screens' are worksheets, and we switch between worksheets using a tabbed pane. We want a menu bar and tool bar for opening new worksheets, ie. a 'menu system' in legacy-speak. So let's get us some framewarez, like a JFrame with a JMenuBar and JTabbedPane, to plug our JPanel worksheets into."

Greenbox: Consuming Metamodel as XML, Edgar Silva digs deeper into Greenbox: "As Alexandre Gomes told on JavaOne2006 'Greenbox is a lot of ideas'. Besides ideas, it have a lot of very easy instruments to generate source really easy."

bobsledbob announces a very interesting Swing Labs component
in today's Forums.

In JXPicker - first crack and discussion, he writes:
"So Hi, I've uploaded some code into the incubator. It's this concept I've been kicking the tires on called JXPicker. The idea is to create a generic combobox like widget which can accommodate picker components which aren't easy or favorable to create by extending JComboBox. My example use case is a JTree embedded in the popup. Or, for another example, the JXDatePicker which uses a trigger button to display a monthly calendar. It's my thought that there are tons of these one off picker components out there. JXPicker is meant to provide a base class for all those components to use and work with. With luck, we can get the plaf issues hammered out nicely and as such, extensions of the JXPicker can then easily get look and feel changes for free."

twalljava seems to be pushing the limits of headless AWT in
w32 "service" mode, or what's my Robot been drinking?
"I ssh into my w32 laptop using cygwin sshd. I run java. Java thinks it's got a display, and while I can instantiate java.awt.Robot, it thinks the entire display is black, and proves ineffective at generating any events. Where am I? Is this untested limbo-land? Does windows have a special 'service' mode that makes it look like you have a display when you don't? Is this scenario explicitly accounted for anywhere in Java, or does it just happen to mostly work because w32 is faking out a display?"

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Are we really tool-dependent?