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I saw the new Java Studio Creator in action (codename: Rave) at BEJUG

Posted by vbrabant on December 4, 2003 at 4:01 PM PST

Today, like yesterday, I had the possibility to follow somes conference at Javapolis, organized by the Belgian Java User Group BEJUG.

I missed the one concerning OptimalJ (based upon netBeans) of Compuware, because it was at the same moment of the conference concerning JSF, presented by Craig R. McClanahan.

But At the end of this afternoon, I followed the conference given by Robert Brewin, the Architecht for the Corporate Developer tools organization, at Sun, concerning the project Rave.

Robert begins by explaining that people needed a visual tool, where you can build your application visually, but where you can also modify the source code freely, if you want.
He explained that people want to be able to develop application that are not vendor dependent, but that are based upon (future) java standards, like JSP, JSF, ROWSETS, ... and can be deployed easily on any server.

He introduced the planning of Rave, by saying that Rave 1.0 would permits visual development of JSP/JSF applications.

He also said that Rave 2.0 will permits visual development of rich (Swing) client applications.

He demonstrates how to visually build a little web application having two JSP pages, with somes elements therein (a listbox and a table on the first page, a table on the second page).

It was amazing: You drop a JSF Table element in the JSP page. Then you drop the table of your database in that JSF Table element and it customize automaticaly the rows with data format of your database table.

Then, you can click on the table, and construct visually your select, (like within MS ACCESS) and saying which column must be displayed. The table displayed in your JSP is then updated to display only selected column.

You have also the possibility to build visually the workflow of your application.
You see then little representation of your jsp page with clickable elements. When I click on the button, I can then link it to an empty place, outside of the jsp page, and automatically, it created a second JPS page and then he could give a name to the link, ...

p>You have the notion of palettes, where you can pick amongs JSF composants, ...
Also amongs little piece of code, contained in the palette of clips. Just Drag and drop from youe editor to add the selected code into clips paletter, to be able to copy it later in another editor.

It was running like a charme. You really had no impression that it was an heavy application, at any moment

Somes people in the audience really enjoyed this demo. And I was happy to constat it because I knowed that it was builded upon the netbeans platform.

But (there is always a BUT), I was also very surprised with the followings :

  1. I could see therein the new windows manager just introduced in the trunk release of netbeans (the pre-version of NB3.6 planned for Q1/2004) (Robert said that Rave was based upon NetBeans 3.4)
  2. The recently enhanced propertties editor introduced recently in NetBeans is also integrated in Rave.
  3. Rave integrate the notion of projects. Or that has been dropped from the NB4.0 planning.

The two first constatations lets me perplex, because, if you read newsgroup of NetBeans, you really have impression that it has been developped from scratch by netBeans developpers, and never I read that it was Rave code given back to the netBeans community.

At the end of the presentation, we had possibilities to ask questions:

someone starter by asking if Rave was based upon Eclipse or NetBeans. And when Robert said that it was builded upon NetBeans, it was really like he was a liar.
Nobody trusted him. That application, that seems so nice, so beautifull, so well-responding can't be based upon the ugly, and slowly appication that is NetBeans. That is impossible.

It shows that Sun AND the netBeans community must do effort to fight against the problem of allergy that java developers encounter when they ear about NetBeans.

Another guy also aked him then, if it was a swing application. And when Robert said that yes, a new astonishment occurs in the audience. Can a Swing application be nice ?

It really seems that everyone in the audience was disappointed that it was not based upon eclipse. During the demo, the excitation of audience was growing, and it dropped rapidly when Robert said that it bas based upon NetBeans.

Then someone asked for the price. After a (long) moment of hesitation, Robert speaked about the price of MS Products and finally said that price of Rave would be lower than 400$,.

After the presentation, I had the occasion to speak with him. And I asked if the netBeans Community will have back developments done in the rave application.

He said that every enhancements/modifications of the netbeans IDE code will be given back to the netbeans community, because they are obliged to do that to respect the Sun Public Licence. But ONLY enhancements, NOT new features, like the visual jsp editor.
By saying that they were obliged to give it back to the netbeans community, Robert seems very annoyed like if he prefered that Rave product stay a closed source product.

I also asked if Rave 2.0 will use the form editor of netbeans, but he said no. The Form editor is too limited for what they want to do for Rave 2.0. Will Rave 2.0 have a two way editor ? Will it be given back to the netbeans community ?We have to wait until next year to know what it will happens.

My Conclusion

Rave (Sun Java Studio Creator) seems to be a very good product.
I can only congratulates Rave Developers team (it seems it's not the same as the netbeans one) for the nice product they produce.
But a demo is always just a demo. So wait and see.

But, now the java product line of Sun is really not clear.
Sun handle three products based upon the netbeans plaform :

  • the NetBeans IDE that has been clearly oriented as a Java IDE
  • the Sun Java Studio (aka Sun ONE Studio (aka Forté For Java))
  • the Sun Java Studio Creator (aka Rave)
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