Reinvigorated Java IDEs change the development landscape
Java IDEs have improved steadily over the last few years. Products from IBM, Borland, and Sun show just how far they've come
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For Java coding, JBuilder has three different sets of code auditors and analyzers: the open-source PMD, Findbugs, and Borland’s own code-inspection tool. These work well together (in fact, they run the risk of overflowing the developer with flagged items), although they lack actionable explanations of the problem as well as the thoughtful resolution recommendations found in IBM’s RAD 7 product.
JBuilder bundles a metrics package that is more extensive than any I’ve seen in any IDE. It generates more than 80 different metrics, displaying them diagrammatically or in spreadsheet format. (Curiously, the metrics do not include the maintainability index, although all the metrics that make up this index are computed.) You can turn off the metrics you’re not interested in and set thresholds for those you do want to track. JBuilder also saves metrics snapshots so that you can compare the current state of the codebase with previous runs to make sure the numbers are trending in the right direction.
CodeGear integrates JBuilder’s OptimizeIt suite of tools, which Borland offered for years as a separate product. OptimizeIt provides numerous high-resolution views into the performance and memory consumption of the software. It includes code coverage analysis (although only as a percentage of the class covered, rather than on a line-by-line basis) and other insights into what is happening beneath the covers, including per-thread data.
JBuilder also offers impressive collaborative features. It sports a developer-oriented messaging system, which helps with code reviews as well as developer communication. It uses a peer-to-peer design that, unfortunately, works only with peers on the same network segment.
For team coordination, JBuilder provides TeamInsight, which is an easily configurable portal server that comprises key open source tools: Subversion, Bugzilla, Continuum, and XPlanner. This portal is accessible through a Web interface or via JBuilder and includes numerous project reports and metrics. Neither of the other IDEs comes close to this level of team integration.