Sun maps out Java Studio Creator tool boosts

Web, EJB improvements highlighted

Sun Microsystems on Friday provided insight into the next major release of its Java Studio Creator application development tool, which is code-named Thresher Shark but officially will be version 2.0 of the product.

Due this summer, version 2.0 boosts EJB consumption and offers a multitude of other improvements, most of which are available now for testing in preview form. Java Studio Creator was first released in June 2004 with the goal of being an easy-to-use Java development tool styled similar to Visual Basic programming.

“The main thrust of version 2.0 is improving the Web application design experience,” and extending the tool’s capabilities to portal servers, said Dan Roberts, Sun group marketing manager for the company’s tools group.  Following version 2.0, Sun plans to make improvements to Java Studio Creator that target rich client development for Swing-based PCs. Mobile client development also will be a focus of a future release.

With version 2.0, EJB components that execute business logic can be imported into Java Studio Creator as data sources that can be moved into the visual design canvas, according to Sun. “You can do it now manually but we’ve added a way in which to do it automatically,” through use of an EJB Java Archive (JAR) file, Roberts said.

A design-time API lets developers build custom JSF (JavaServer Faces) components that leverage design-time features of the tool. JSF is a technology for building Java-based Web applications.

An improved style editor, meanwhile, lets developers change text size, fonts, backgrounds, color, and positioning quickly, according to Sun.

An HTML page import capability converts HTML pages to JSP (JavaServer Pages). Developers, for example, could import a Macromedia Dreamweaver-based page into Java Studio Creator and convert it to a JSP page. 

Remote server deployment also is highlighted for deploying applications to remote servers.

A developer of commercial Java applications said he liked Thresher Shark's ability to deploy to multiple Java application servers via WAR (Web ARchive) files but noted the tool’s emphasis on less experienced Java developers.

“Basically, I think it’s good for beginner programmers or corporate programmers, but I don’t think that a more experienced programmer is going to have a nice time with it right now,” said Sebastian Ferreyra, a developer based in Santiago Del Estero, Argentina, and also an editor at Javalobby, a Web-based organization for Java developers.

Experienced developers would probably want to work with NetBeans or another IDE, Ferreyra said.

Sun on Friday also said it has had tens of thousands of updates to an incremental upgrade to the initial Java Studio Creator product that was released around Christmas 2004 and code-named Reef Shark.

Also called Update 6, Reef Shark features component import improvements to make it easier to package custom or third-party JSF components for import into the IDE. The components can then be used in Java Studio Creator Web applications.

The JSF library is upgraded in the tool through the bundling of a J2EE 1.4 SDK. This bundling provides improved support for Java Studio Creator and bug fixes in the JSF 1.1 maintenance release.

A “Flow Mode” function in the tool’s visual designer now supports interfaces in grid layout mode and a new flow layout mode. An improved export WAR facility, meanwhile, features automation for easier exporting of WAR files.

Libraries for the J2EE 1.3 and 1.4 specifications also are included in Reef Shark.

Preinstalled API reference documentation is featured for Java technologies including Javadocs for the JDK, JSF and JDBC Rowsets.

Additionally, Reef Shark offers usability improvements, bug fixes, and customer requests for enhancements. More than 60 improvements have been made to the designer, application outline and palette, Sun said.

Java Studio Creator is available on an annual subscription basis for $99 per developer. 

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.