Genuitec brightens up Eclipse
MyEclipse 5.0 gives developers broad, but not deep, toolset for building Java apps
MyEclipse traditionally has been oriented toward enterprise Java, and the 5.0 release maintains this philosophy. One of the key additions is a UML editor, which supports the “big six” UML diagrams: use-case, class, collaboration, state, activity, and deployment. The editor has solid, if unremarkable, functionality and can generate code from class diagrams and likewise class diagrams from source code. It also can export diagrams in industry-standard XMI format. The package adds a basic image editor, too, although it’s more suited for touch-ups than for drawing an image from scratch.
MyEclipse’s DB Explorer facilitates access to databases. This release provides the ability to view triggers, functions, and procedures in Microsoft SQL Server and Sybase. It can generate the needed DDL, and it has wizards for developing and running functions and procedures on the fly. In addition, MyEclipse supports v. 3.1 of the widely used Hibernate framework.
MyEclipse 5.0 also has built-in support for deploying applications to an astonishingly wide variety of Java servers, including Caucho Resin, Red Hat JBoss, Adobe/Macromedia JRun, Oracle, Apache Tomcat, BEA WebLogic, and IBM Websphere.
I found client-facing Web interfaces well served in this release. At the most elementary level there is a good HTML Visual Designer with tabbed views for design, coding, and a CSS editor. The HTML editor in particular is an elegant, easy-to-use tool. A separate Visual Web Designer provides support for Struts and JSF (JavaServer Faces).
On the Client Side
The biggest jewel in MyEclipse 5.0 is the inclusion of the Matisse GUI designer. Sun developed this product for its NetBeans IDE.
In a nutshell, Matisse is probably the best available GUI designer for Java, laudable especially for its ease of use. Its inclusion in this suite has an ironic aspect, as Matisse generates code for Swing only -- the archrival of SWT, which is Eclipse’s GUI toolkit. However, because Swing has always been a distinct super-set of SWT functionality, it is the only choice for complex desktop applications. Hence, Matisse makes a lot of sense for Eclipse users who now have a great tool for creating these advanced interfaces. (The only shortcoming of note is that Matisse does not yet run on the MacOS version of MyEclipse.)
Broad But Shallow
As much as I was impressed by MyEclipse 5.0’s range of plug-ins, however, I was disappointed with their lack of depth. Save for Matisse and the Visual HTML editor, most of the products had workaday functionality but little more. As such, they will appeal most to developers who have limited need for these various technologies and who don’t require high-end features.
Despite this, the items in MyEclipse form a comprehensive suite. They are reminiscent of IBM’s high-end Rational developer tools. In some areas, such as UML support, IBM is far and away more capable; but in other domains, such as GUI development for Swing, IBM has no response to MyEclipse.
The biggest difference between the two suites is price. There, Genuitec’s subscription model routs IBM’s four-figure cost of entry. And given that both products are built on Eclipse, sites evaluating Rational IDEs should make sure to examine MyEclipse first. They are likely to find what they need at a fraction of the cost.