At the time, I was comparing Java to the powerful and robust Win32 applications I built using the exceptional Borland Delphi development products (now owned by CodeGear) - there was no comparison. Native Windows applications built using Delphi were robust, stable, fast, and relied on a mature object-oriented framework (the VCL - Visual Component Library). Java - well, to summarize, it sucked. Now, I am once again looking at cross-platform development options, and as such, I am reconsidering Java (as well as Python, C++, and perhaps even Ruby - though I think the latter is just a fad til proven otherwise long-term).
Well, things have improved considerably for Java-based software development from what I can tell. I think the main driver of this change is Eclipse. It seems that much of the work on the Java classes has to do with the Eclipse framework's own requirements, and the Eclipse Community has some major players behind it - like IBM, Borland/Codegear, and other major technology vendors, researchers, and independent developers.
After digging into the latest version Eclipse 3.3, and the latest enhancements to the Java SWT, I am seriously reconsidering it as a development platform (with "it" being the combination: Eclipse + Java). I also will use Eclipse as my Python development platform of choice, but I am going to focus on the Java development tool portion of things mainly here.
One of the first things I think any good software development tool, framework, and environment need in order to succeed is a good set of "getting started" code samples to help developers quickly hit the ground running and productive. Eclipse now provides a nice set of code snippets for Java / SWT that will certainly help anyone get started with Eclipse/Java/SWT development. The source-code samples are all rather straight forward, and that concise and well-categorized (by type of functionality) library of code chunks should be enough to get a developer going, as many common-tasks are clearly coded.
Next, did you realize that Eclipse has turned into not just a platform for IDE's (Integrated Development Environments - for software programming / coding), but also into an application-development
"The Eclipse for RCP/Plug-in Developers contains what you need to build Eclipse applications, including plug-ins for the development environment and Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) applications. Designed specifically for the task, this is the best tool available for building Eclipse plug-ins and applications (it is also considered by many to be the best Java development tool available)."
Now, I MAY be speaking prematurely, since I have yet to build any RCP Applications with it, but, I downloaded Eclipse RCP/plug-in development version from here with high hopes of doing so: http://www.eclipse.org/download
I THINK it can help me do exactly what I want with my existing Developer StemCells Studio (tm) program — an updateable language-neutral template-based software programming tool:
1) give me a cross-platform reach. I am currently limited to Windows development since the tool is a Windows-32 native executable now.
2) provide a "host" into which my code processor/plug-ins can be installed, and then make my StemCells(tm) technology available to any developer, using ANY language hosted inside Eclipse. It seems the Eclipse infrastructure will make many things EASY (or easier), if I can figure out how to use them to my advantage. Like, did you know they have a neat little "diff" control that makes it easy to show visual side-by-side compare (of two files or text-sources)? That's cool. Basically, any feature in Eclipse can be used in your apps.
There are a lot of neat "plugins" also available at Eclipse Plugin Central, like this Jigloo SWT/Swing GUI Builder that seems interesting and gets high marks from users. I plan to try this one out, as well as the PyDev Eclipse Plugin (Python Development assistant), and a few others. I'll play with those things to see how far the platform can be pushed, though my main interest right now is being able to use Eclipse as a Java development platform.
I just felt like sharing some excitement about modern Java software development, using Eclipse... now, here's hoping it lasts :)
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