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Easy Learn Java: Programming Articles, Examples and Tips - Page 357


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Java: IDEs

Go to all tips in Java Installation, tunning, options...

One of the most efficient ways to produce programs is to use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment). Why aren't they used more in an educational setting? Probably the main reason is that it takes time to learn the tool, time that instructors feel is not central to learning programming. They also hide details that may be important to learn about. Once you know how to do everything on your own, it's easier to understand and use these systems.

Full-strength IDEs

These provide extensive programming support for editing, building GUI interfaces, project management, debugging, etc. These offer far more than is required by the student Java programmer, and may be a barrier to learning Java because there is a lot to learn about how to use them.

NetBeans
A free, open-source, IDE is available from Sun at www.netbeans.org. This is a good choice for students because of the good GUI form editor and the editing and debugging facilities.. See NetBeans IDE for more information. java.sun.com has a nice bundle of NetBeans with the JDK. If you don't install the bundle, you must install the JDK first.

Version 4.0 (Java 5 (1.5)) is better than version 3.6 (Java 1.4), BUT it has a bug that prevents it from reading console input. If your programs are GUI based, and/or need Java 5 features, use NetBeans 4.0.

Eclipse
IBM's free Eclipse IDE, www.eclipse.org, is popular, and is the first choice of many professionals. It supports the non-standard SWT GUI library.
JBuilder
Borland's JBuilder (www.borland.com) is good and the JBuilder 2005 Foundation Edition seems to be free. See free download.
Others
There are other IDEs, but most of these aren't suitable for student programs.
  • IntelliJ IDEA is reportedly excellent, but expensive. It gets more favorable reviews by everyone who has used it than any other IDE. There is a $99 academic price.
  • Don't use Microsoft's Visual J++. Other parts of their Visual .NET Studio may be good, but they have never provided good Java support. Also, steer clear of Symantec's Visual Cafe for Java, which is generally given poor reviews.

Half-strength IDEs

These are simpler to use for small projects, but typically don't have nearly as many features, eg, no graphical user interface editor. Not all have been updated to Java 5 the last time I looked, so check before downloading.

jGRASP
Many like it. The Control Structure Diagramming is nice. Easy to install. Free.

To enable Java 5 features, start with the Compiler menu:
Compiler > Compiler Settings > Workspace > Compiler (Tab) > Environment (Tab)
then choose "j2sdk(1.5) (prefer JDK compiler)", and click the Use button, then OK.

URL: www.jgrasp.org.
DrJava
A popular, simple, free development system. It enforces indentation and allows immediate evaluation of expressions. Java 5 seems to be suported in recent beta versions. drjava.org.
Others
  • JCreator (www.jcreator.com) - Free and "Pro" versions. A number of students have used this. Not updated to Java 5 as of 2004-12-12.
  • Gel, free from www.gexperts.com is another possible student-level IDE. I've never used it. Not updated to Java 5 as of 2005-01-20.
  • JavaBeginner from www.javatoolsoft.com. I haven't taken a look at this relatively new offering, and at $50, I probably will wait to hear what others say first. Not updated to Java 5 as of 2004-12-12.
  • CodeGuide (www.omnicore.com - $49 student price, free trial, Java 5.
  • BlueJ (www.bluej.org) - Used in some intro courses, but programs use a non-standard interface and it doesn't produce real java programs.
  • And many more...

Editors that run javac

Some programming editors will compile Java by linking to Sun's JDK.

jEdit
Free, open-source, and good. This is my favorite editor. Has full set of plugins, eg to indent the source and compile. www.jedit.org.
TextPad
Good, but doesn't indent program. Has brace matching feature. Pay, but can continue to use trial version with nags. If the Java SDK is installed first, TextPad will allow compilation of Java programs from the editor. www.textpad.com.


2 comments | Printer Friendly Page  Send to a Friend | Score: 0
Posted by jalex on Monday, May 09, 2005 (00:00:00) (3624 reads)

Java: Ant

Go to all tips in Java Installation, tunning, options...

Ant is the most commonly used "make" facility for Java programs. After editing source programs, it's necessary to recompile. Ant checks the last change date on .class and .java files and recompiles source files where the .class date is older than the corresponding .java file.

Ant also supports many additional tasks, for example, running javadoc to produce documentation, running tests, building jar files, ... The action of ant is determined by a build.xml file. A generic build.xml file is given below that might be appropriate for student programs.

Obtaining and installing Ant

Ant is free from the Apache Software Foundation (ant.apache.org).

To install it on Windows unzip it into a directory (eg, C:ant) and set the following three environment variables (JAVA_HOME should be set to where your JDK directory is). Installation instructions can be found at ant/docs/manual/index.html in the ant directory and online.

Environment variables

The environment variables ANT_HOME, JAVA_HOME, and PATH must be set (eg, Settings - Control Panel - System - Advanced - Environment Variables - System Variables).

   ANT_HOME=c:ant
   JAVA_HOME=c:jdk1.4.2_04
   To PATH add %ANT_HOME%in

Usage

Ant can be used from many IDEs, but I typically use it from a DOS/Command window.

  1. Set up ant as above.
  2. Copy build.xml (see below) into your project directory.
  3. Open a DOS/Command window and move (cd) to the directory containing your source files.
  4. Type ant to compile your source files. The source="1.4" option is already specified so assertions are enabled at compile time.
  5. I use a text editor and flip back and forth between editing and the DOS window to make changes, fix bugs, etc.
  6. Run the program with "java -ea YourProg" ("-ea" enables run-time assertions).

Simple build.xml file

For simple development where the source and object files are in the same directory and there's no explicit package (typical student project organization), the following build.xml file can be used. This works correctly if all top-level classes are in separate files. The following ant commands can be used.

ant Compiles source files (defaults to build).
ant build Compiles source files. Same as above.
ant docs Creates javadoc documentation in a docs directory. It creates the docs directory if necessary. docs/index.html is the root of the documentation.
ant clean Deletes all .class files and the docs directory. This must be done whenever a class has been renamed or removed, before final builds, and just every so often to help detect "code rot".



10 comments | Printer Friendly Page  Send to a Friend | Score: 2
Posted by jalex on Saturday, May 07, 2005 (00:00:00) (5028 reads)

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