IBM's VisualAge for Java 2.0, Enterprise Edition, shows impressive improvements over the previous version, which arrived about this time last year. This new version of VisualAge for Java adds a bevy of hooks into strategic corporate systems, applications, and data that make it worth checking out.
Other Java development-tool vendors, such as Inprise and Symantec, are also delving into the enterprise space. For example, Inprise's JBuilder now offers support for the AS/400 Toolkit for Java as does this edition of VisualAge for Java.
Symantec is about to deliver its Visual Cafe for Java Enterprise Suite, which includes a strong dose of remote debugging capabilities. VisualAge Enterprise Edition also boasts expanded remote debugging capabilities that will be a good match for developers in mixed platform and language settings.
However, IBM has gone well beyond other current Java development environments in the area of enterprise linkage. Integrated access tools for SAP R/3, CICS, and C++ are a welcome improvement as are the toolkits for AS/400 and S/390 that IBM has included.
IBM has also added aids in this version that make it easier to map Java objects to relational data.
And my tests with the new Data Access Bean support found it an easy mechanism to access Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) data sources.
The development environment is much improved over the previous version. Navigating seems easier, and coding aids, such as automatic code completion, are quite helpful. The search tool also shows signs of marked improvement.
This edition of VisualAge for Java now supports JDK 1.1.6, Swing, and the Java Native Interface (JNI). Visual editing support is included for Swing components as well as new visual aids for servlet creation. Developers can also easily import components they have created in other tools.
There is a lot to like in this latest version of VisualAge for Java. Corporate managers and development teams seeking a solid Java tool should evaluate this truly enterprise edition.
The Bottom Line
VisualAge for Java 2.0, Enterprise EditionAmong Java development tools, IBM jumps ahead of the pack. This version of VisualAge for Java gains support for the creation of applications, applets, servlets, and JavaBean components that can be integrated with enterprise systems such as SAP R/3 and AS/400.
Pros: Data Access Beans simplify access to Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) data; built-in repository and version control; improved development interface with coding assistance, searching, and enhanced debugging capabilities.
Cons: None noted.
Platforms: Development: Windows 95 (Windows 98 in test), Windows NT 4.0, OS/2, AIX. Deployment: Any platform that supports Java virtual machine 1.1 and later.
Price: Available on application.
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