IBM VisualAge for Java, Professional Edition 3.0, beta, stands poised to deliver a stiff challenge to rival Java development tools. The VisualAge development interface offers productivity enhancements and distributed debugging capabilities that will turn up the heat.
My beta copy included the Professional Edition of this version of VisualAge (with Java Development Kit 1.1.7 support) as well as two previews of forthcoming VisualAge for Java technology.
The previews included a version of VisualAge that supports Java 2 and an early version of VisualAge for Java for Linux. IBM also expects to offer an Enterprise Edition of VisualAge, which should offer greater enterprise integration capabilities.
Those who choose VisualAge for Java will find an impressively improved interface with functionality that will shorten project time lines. In particular, I liked a new setting that lets the user choose how to open and work with project elements. In past versions, a new window opened as you browsed an element, such as a class. The new setting lets you browse the class in the current window or open another window at your discretion.
Developers will also like being able to customise the editor commands for mapping code. VisualAge for Java comes with editor mappings for Windows and EMACS, which can be changed or customised.
Though this beta version showed a VisualAge for Java update that is a work in progress, site administrators looking for strong Java tool support will want to keep an eye out for the production version later this year. The addition of Java 2 support, expansion to Linux, and the improved developer interface are worth considering.
The bottom line * * * *
IBM VisualAge for Java, Professional 3.0, betaSummary: This VisualAge for Java update offers useful developers' tools and distributed debugging. Preview versions also show solid forthcoming support for Java 2 and the Linux platform.
Business Case: Current customers and those seeking Java development tools will want to keep VisualAge for Java on the radar for its impending production release. Enhancements in this release will speed developers along and reduce project costs.
Pros: More navigable developer interface; Code assistance macro support; Added Linux support; Easier access to help files; Customisable code-editor key bindingsCons: No Java 2 support in beta version; Minor beta bugsPlatforms: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, AIX, Linux, OS/2, OS/400, OS/390.
Cost: Pricing data not yet available.
Ship Date: September 1999.