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Oracle spells services

Oracle spells services

As enterprise IT strategists hone their plans for Web services, corporate developers must begin working with tools that will let them rapidly create and deploy them. For Java-based enterprises, a plethora of tools is available that can speed up Web-services implementations. One such solution is Oracle9i JDeveloper 4, part of Oracle's Oracle9i Developer Suite. The newest release of Oracle's Java IDE (integrated development environment) sports several new additions that ease Web-services creation and deployment.

A greater number of developers should be able to use Oracle9i JDeveloper 4, as the IDE has been rewritten in Java for this release. We had no trouble installing and launching Oracle9i JDeveloper 4. However, the IDE contains so much integrated functionality that less-experienced developers and those unaccustomed to using an IDE may not know where to begin. Oracle should supply additional aids to help newer developers or those who have not used an IDE before.

We also found that navigating through the JDeveloper IDE was not as easy as it is with some other IDEs, such as Borland's JBuilder. The tabbed metaphor used by JBuilder to enable quick jumps among source code, documentation, diagrams, and the like is much faster, in our opinion, than using JDeveloper's Document Bar and tree-based metaphor.

When developers get JDeveloper navigation down, they will find several compelling additions in this release. Chief among these is new support for creating and deploying Web services. The IDE includes a Web Services Publishing wizard that helps developers create deployment descriptors and the WSDL (Web Services Description Language) necessary to publish Web services. We were able to quickly define which classes we wanted to publish as Web services, but we could deploy only to Oracle9i Application Server and Apache SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) Server with the default options presented in the IDE.

As does JBuilder, JDeveloper 4 includes integrated support for UML (Unified Modeling Language) diagrams. Developers can quickly create activity or class diagrams. We constructed several class diagrams and found that JDeveloper's UML support is on par with that of JBuilder. Developers will be able to use the UML facilities to tighten up application and Web services designs.

JDeveloper supplies useful tools for programmers creating EJBs (Enterprise JavaBeans). For example, developers can easily reverse-engineer database tables into CMP (Container Managed Persistence) Entity Beans. We particularly liked the included support that allowed us to test Enterprise JavaBeans within the IDE.

JDeveloper also includes tools that will help developers pinpoint performance issues. Three built-in profiling tools can help programmers examine execution, memory, and event optimisations. Our e-commerce applications were noticeably faster after using the profiling tools.

Development teams will appreciate the built-in support for source control supplied within the JDeveloper IDE. Oracle supplies its own source-management tool, and it supports other solutions, such as Rational's ClearCase and the ubiquitous CVS (Concurrent Versioning System). We had no trouble setting up and using any of the source-control facilities that are included.

Oracle9i JDeveloper 4 also includes support for Javadoc, the tool created by Sun Microsystems to produce HTML-formatted code documentation, allowing developers to generate Javadoc files from the IDE. Moreover, the Oracle IDE includes support for rename and move refactoring. We found both the Javadoc and refactoring support to be on par with rivals such as JBuilder.

As you might expect, JDeveloper is well-suited for developing database-driven Java applications. We used available support to connect to a variety of data sources. Oracle provides JDBC (Java Database Connectivity) support for its own database as well as support for third-party JDBC drivers and the JDBC-ODBC bridge.

New developers and those who may not be accustomed to using an IDE may have a tough time getting ramped up with Oracle9i JDeveloper 4. Nonetheless, available JDeveloper facilities that support Web services, XML, SQL, and J2EE development are quite compelling. Enterprises that need to move quickly on implementing Web services should give Oracle9i JDeveloper 4 a look.

The bottom line

Oracle9i JDeveloper 4

Business Case: This IDE represents a good investment for Java-based enterprises, especially Oracle shops, that want to roll out Web services quickly.

Technology Case: JDeveloper's navigational tools will take some getting used to, but developers will find the IDE packed with useful tools for developing Java applications and Web services.

Pros:

+ Built-in support for Web-services creation and deployment.

+ UML support within the IDE.

+ Integrated optimisation tools.

+ Source-control support.

Cons:

- Limited application-server support out of the box.

- May be difficult for less-experienced developers.

Cost: The list licence fee is $9637 per developer.

Platform(s): HP-UX, Linux, Solaris, Windows 2000/NT.

Oracle: 1300 366 386, www.oracle.com.


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