Shipping a bit behind its Visual Studio product siblings, Microsoft's Visual J++ 6.0 is most ideal for sites that want to use Java merely as another language choice to build Windows applications. Although it is possible to build cross-platform Java applications using Visual J++, most of the development environment features support Windows-based Java application creation.
The production version of Visual J++ is very similar to the Technology Preview 2 of Visual J++ that I tested. In addition, the shipping version of Visual J++ is much more stable than the Technology Preview 1 version that I evaluated in March.
Key in this version of Visual J++ is Microsoft's inclusion of the Windows Foundation Classes (WFCs), which encapsulate the Win32 API as well as Dynamic HTML. Developers can use Visual J++'s graphic tools to access WFCs and build Windows-based applications.
Helpful productivity aids
Like its tool counterparts in Visual Studio, Visual J++ does sport helpful productivity aids, such as code syntax checking. And Visual J++ also contains useful tools for Windows developers who need to access data housed in a variety of sources.
Microsoft has also included support for remote debugging between client and server, though the feature is not as extensive as rival Java tool offerings. For example, Symantec's Visual Cafe for Java Enterprise Suite supports cross-platform remote debugging that includes other platforms, such as Linux.
IT sites that want to use Java as a language choice to build Windows applications will find Visual J++ up to the task. Organisations that need cross-platform Java support, however, should consider other options.
The Bottom Line
Visual J++ 6.0, Professional Edition
An ideal tool for organisations that want to build Windows applications in Java, Visual J++ suffers from limited cross-platform support and debugging tools.
Pros: Promotes component reuse; good Windows development productivity tools; built-in deployment features.
Cons: Limited development platform support; some integrated development environment features work only in Windows; limited deployment platform.
Platforms: Development: Windows 9x, Windows NT; Deployment: Any browser- capable client for HTML applications; Windows 9x and NT.
Price: Professional Edition: $369; Standard Edition: $99.
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