TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Java IDE Review
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:8
Column Tag:Javatech™

Two Java Environments Compared

It just started brewing so it might be a little weak

By Marty Wachter

Because developments in the Java world refuse to pause for us, with toolmakers rushing to get products into programmers’ hands with or without their full complement of functionalities, we are compelled to settle for an occasional description of the situation at some arbitrary moment, knowing full well that we’ll be overcome by the rush of events before we go to press. This review was written in mid-May, when, on the Metrowerks side, CodeWarrior 9 (with the corresponding DJ1 update to Discover Programming) had not yet appeared, and, on the Symantec side, neither had the DR2 update to Café - so we couldn’t take account of the important changes that those updates would bring. Meanwhile, Natural Intelligence’s Roaster DR2 was just on the point of release, and because it involved significant improvements we felt it best to wait for it rather than include Roaster DR1 in the present comparison. We need hardly tell our readers that the only reliable way to stay on top of events is to watch the Web. - man

It’s about time! Java development tools from the familiar Mac development tool vendors, Metrowerks and Symantec, are finally here. Speculation about their arrival first started showing up in MacTech Magazine and the Internet newsgroups almost a year ago. Was it worth the wait? You can decide for yourself by the time you are finished reading this review, which deals with Metrowerks’ first release of Discover Programming with Java and Symantec’s DR1 release of Café.

Note that these are Java development tools; this article is not about the Java language. MacTech Magazine has been describing the language in detail for some time now; there was, for example, Richard Cardona’s “Writing Java 102” in the March 1996 issue ([12.3] 25-38), and, since May, Dave Mark has been devoting some “Getting Started” columns to Java. You will doubtless want to watch Sun’s Java Web site at, and the many other fine Java sites such as Elliotte Rusty Harold’s

Being the first commercial release, both products have numerous limitations that I will outline below; remember that by the time you read this, Metrowerks and Symantec will have updates to their tools available on their Web sites.

The best way for me to approach these products is to describe and compare both tool sets from installation to execution.

What You Get

Both products include source code editors with syntax coloring, a Sun-validated Java compiler, Java Applet Viewer, some form of class browser, support for code control, all of the Sun Java example projects converted to the appropriate environment, vendor-specific demo projects, Sun’s Java documentation in HTML format, and various other forms of documentation and utilities.

The MW product also includes the CodeWarrior Java IDE, which is the full version of their IDE, easily adapted to support Java via a plug-in compiler, linker, and preference panel. A big plus for the Metrowerks package is the inclusion of the MW Debugger, which supports the source-level debugging of .class files in the same way it supports debugging .SYM files for C and C++. Additional documentation is supplied as cool Apple Guide files and interactive help which is also linked to the Java HTML documentation via hypertext links in the Guide files. The entire tool set runs native on 68K and PowerPC platforms.

The Symantec product includes the Symantec Project Manager (which appears also to be the full version) for source editing and project management, and a very preliminary version of a visual GUI development tool called Café Studio .which is similar in concept to their Visual Architect tool, for creating java.awt GUI elements and generating the source code for the interface.

In addition to the documentation on the Metrowerks disk, they include an electronic copy of the book Learn Java on the Macintosh, by Barry Boone. Symantec strikes back with an electronic copy of their own “Intro To Java Programming”. Although both packages have ample documentation, I really would have preferred the Java API docs in either THINK Reference format and/or QuickView format.

What You Don’t Get

In their current releases, both products are missing the promised JIT (just-in-time) compilers that their respective documentation alludes to. I suspect that these compilers will greatly enhance the usability of both tool sets.

Other than the absence of a GUI tool for creating Java AWT interfaces, the Metrowerks product contains everything you need to start developing your own Java applets and applications. I don’t know if such a tool is planned, but extending their PowerPlant interface builder would be a welcome addition.

The Symantec tool, on the other hand, is missing two huge features in its DR1 release. If you don’t have a Power Mac, you’re out of luck until the 68K tools are available. The lack of any kind of source-level debugger will make this release very difficult to use for learning the language and for commercial Java development. JPEG support as well as sound support are also absent from this release.


According to their documentation, the Metrowerks tools require the following minimum configuration:

• A Mac OS computer with an MC68020, MC68030, MC68040, or PowerPC processor

• 8 megabytes of RAM

• Mac OS System Software 7.1 or later (you’ll need 7.5 or the Apple Guide system if you want to use the Apple Guide documentation)

• A CD-ROM reader for installing the software

For optimum performance, Metrowerks suggests an MC68040 or PowerPC machine with 16 megabytes of RAM.

Symantec minimum requirements are as follows:

• Macintosh 68030 processor (or greater) or Power Macintosh (DR1 supports only PowerPC development)

• 16 megabytes of RAM

• CD-ROM reader for installation

The Symantec documentation did not offer any optimum configuration, but ultimately the only way I could get an applet up in the SPM and run it on my Power Mac 6100 (System 7.1.2) with 24 megs of RAM, was to turn off all extensions and turn on Ram Doubler to get it up to 48 megs.


So, here I am, about to install both products. They each ship on a CD-ROM and contain installers built by MindVision’s Installer Vise system, with options for Easy and Custom installations. Metrowerks’ recommended Easy Install option will need almost 51 megabytes of your disk. Thankfully, Metrowerks gives you the option of installing the tools, documentation, online books, and sample code separately. There is also the comforting Minimal Install option which will cost you under 11 megabytes of space.

The Symantec installer provides an Easy Install option, but it doesn’t tell me how much space it will cost me. Only after performing the installation will I learn that Easy Install requires about 35 megabytes of space (5 megs more than the required space according to the documentation). The Easy Install option does not install the full documentation, the extra utilities, or the Café Studio tool. To get around this, you are offered the option of installing the Café Tools, Café Studio, Java Demos, Goodies, and full documentation under the Custom Install choice. Selecting all of the Installation options under Custom Install reports that the full installation will require just under 28 megabytes of space - I’m confused!

I proceed with the Easy Installation options for both packages. The Metrowerks system installs everything into a “Discover Programming with Java” folder on my drive. The Symantec installer is a bit troublesome in that the default installation places the Café tools folders at the root level of my drive, so I have to do some cleaning up after the install. Sure, I forgot to select a directory in the “Select a Folder” menu under the Install Location option, but I was excited to get started. The Easy Install should be just that, easy. I then have to go back and do a Custom Install to get the Café Studio tool.

The Tools

OK, now that I finally have these tools on my Mac, it’s time to see what it’s all about. Generally speaking, both environments are extensions of their respective C/C++ products. This is fortunate because you don’t have to learn new tools to get started. To keep things even, I chose the Sun Animator demo applet, included with both packages, for my tests.

IDE Project Managers

As you would expect from any successful Macintosh tools vendor, both products contain a familiar project model for building Java applets and Java applications (applets are executed via the <applet> tag in HTML; applications are real Macintosh programs that execute when you double-click them). Symantec includes its standard Symantec Project Manager for managing your .java source files and your .html files; Metrowerks uses their CodeWarrior Integrated Development Environment for the same purpose.


Both products include editors built into their IDEs, which support function markers, syntax coloring, drag-and-drop editing, and split panes.

Class Browsers

Both products also contain class browsers which are extremely helpful for viewing and editing any object-oriented source code. The Symantec product includes a graphical mode which shows you a left-to-right graphical tree of the project’s files. This is a cool tool, but I was easily able to cause a few problems while testing it out. Aside from a few cosmetic bugs like list selections extending beyond the bounding panel, I found that if I double-clicked on a Java library class function the SPM reports that the file can’t be found. I tried removing the project’s object code, and reset the project paths, but this caused a total system crash. After rebooting, I tried again and this time crashed the SPM by holding the mouse down over one of the graphical leaves in the class browser. Oh, well; it looks like a cool feature. On to the rest of the tools.


As I mentioned before, the JIT compilers are not available in either release. Metrowerks currently offers only one compiler, the Sun-validated “MW Compiler” which is essentially the same compiler code that the Sun Mac JDK (beta 1) uses. Symantec offers the standard Sun compiler and a faster Symantec Java Compiler that seems to outperform the Sun compilers as far as time to compile is concerned.

Interface Builders

Metrowerks doesn’t include any sort of interface builder with this release; Symantec, however, has included a preview release of their Café Studio application (which is also PowerPC-only code). This tool reportedly allows you to draw the java.awt interface components with a MacDraw-like tool palette. You can the generate the Java code to create the actual interface in your project. You still have to do some manual work on the resulting code, and several of the java.awt components are not supported. There is also no way of subclassing any of the java.awt classes using this tool. I also found out that there is no documentation for Café Studio on the DR1 disk. You had to visit Symantec’s password-protected Café Web site, armed with your user ID and password (which comes on a paper insert to the CD’s jewel box) just to get to the Café Studio update, which I found to contain the missing documentation to Café Studio, in Adobe PDF format.

Figure 1. The Café Studio environment

Applet Viewers (The Java Virtual Machine)

Both Metrowerks and Symantec include a modified version of the Sun Applet Viewer. Once your Java source code is compiled into bytecodes, you run your code with the Applet Viewer. The Metrowerks version, called “Metrowerks Java”, is a bit farther along in that it supports sound. The Symantec version doesn’t support sound yet.

I have found that the overall performance of both Applet Viewers is lacking. I sincerely hope that the next release of both products will pay more attention to the performance of Java on the Mac platform. In particular, the graphics drawing implementations are very slow. I have some custom graph-paper code (similar to the Graphing Calculator that came with the Power Macs) which I wrote on a Sparc 4 under Sun’s Solaris JDK, that flies when run with the Sun JDK, but is painfully slow even on a Power Mac 9500/132!


This part of the review was the easiest. The current release of Café doesn’t have one and the Metrowerks debugger is the exact same “MW Debug” that you use with any other language. You just treat your .class files that the MW compiler spits out as if they were .SYM files. Having a real Mac-based source-level debugger for Java code is the one thing that I have really wanted since I started doing Java development last year with the Sun JDK alpha 3 tools. This tool alone is worth the entire cost of the Metrowerks tool set!

[Incoming Editor-in-Chief Will Iverson adds: “As of this writing, all three vendors have shipped debuggers. However, all of these debuggers have severe limitations with regard to multi-threaded debugging, variable display, stepping in and out of code, and multi-language display (e.g. debugging C/C++ and Java code). Consider yourself warned...”]

Figure 2. The Metrowerks debugger


The support you get with both products differs a bit. Metrowerks and Symantec both offer some type of phone support, fax support, and internet support. The big differences are that Symantec offers a 60-day money-back guarantee and 90 days (from the date of your first call) of unlimited phone support for installation, configuration, and general use (which in my opinion you’ll definitely need), after which you’ve got to pay, while Metrowerks offers their standard unlimited phone support. The other thing, which I mentioned earlier, is that you’ll need your password and user ID to access Symantec’s Café Web site for updates, while Metrowerks’ Web site is accessible without a password or ID.


Table 1 shows a summary of the features sets of the two environments.

Table 1. Comparative feature sets

It’s nice to finally have some options for Java development on the Mac platform. Finally the Internet world will get to see what interesting and useful Java software will look like from the Mac developer’s perspective. Your choice of Java tools might come down to going with whatever environment you are more comfortable with, just to ease the learning curve, but in the early innings of this game the smaller hardware requirements, 68K support, and the excellent source-level debugger make Metrowerks’ “Discover Programming with Java” the clear choice for getting started with Java development on the Mac. However, if you are planning to do any serious Java development, and especially if you require use of Java’s system, you’ll want to get yourself a Sparc station.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Chromium 54.0.2840.71 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. Version 54.0.2840.71: Release notes were unavailable... Read more
Firetask 3.8.1 - Innovative task managem...
Firetask uniquely combines the advantages of classical priority-and-due-date-based task management with GTD. Stay focused and on top of your commitments - Firetask's "Today" view shows all relevant... Read more
Yep 3.8.0 - $23.99
Yep is a document organization and management tool. Like iTunes for music or iPhoto for photos, Yep lets you search and view your documents in a comfortable interface, while offering the ability to... Read more
Data Rescue 4.3.1 - Powerful hard drive...
Use Data Rescue to recover: crashed, corrupted or non-mounting hard drive deleted, damaged, or lost files reformatted or erased hard drive One powerful new feature found in Data Rescue 4 is... Read more
Yep 3.8.0 - $23.99
Yep is a document organization and management tool. Like iTunes for music or iPhoto for photos, Yep lets you search and view your documents in a comfortable interface, while offering the ability to... Read more
Data Rescue 4.3.1 - Powerful hard drive...
Use Data Rescue to recover: crashed, corrupted or non-mounting hard drive deleted, damaged, or lost files reformatted or erased hard drive One powerful new feature found in Data Rescue 4 is... Read more
PDFpen 8.2.1 - $74.95
PDFpen allows users to easily edit PDF's. Add text, images and signatures. Fill out PDF forms. Merge or split PDF documents. Reorder and delete pages. Even correct text and edit graphics! Features... Read more
TextMate 2.0-beta.12.25 - Code/markup ed...
TextMate is a versatile plain text editor with a unique and innovative feature set which caused it to win an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006. A rapidly growing... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.4 - Subscription-based pr...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
QuickBooks R9 - Financial ma...
QuickBooks helps you manage your business easily and efficiently. Organize your finances all in one place, track money going in and out of your business, and spot areas where you can save. Built for... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Best Fiends Forever Guide: How to collec...
The fiendship in Seriously's hit Best Fiends has been upgraded this time around in Best Fiends Forever. It’s a fast-paced clicker with lots of color and style--kind of reminiscent of a ‘90s animal mascot game like Crash Bandicoot. The game... | Read more »
5 apps for the budding mixologist
Creating your own cocktails is something of an art form, requiring a knack for unique tastes and devising interesting combinations. It's easy to get started right in your own kitchen, though, even if you're a complete beginner. Try using one of... | Read more »
5 mobile strategy games to try when you...
Strategy enthusiasts everywhere are celebrating the release of Civilization VI this week, and so far everyone seems pretty satisfied with the first full release in the series since 2010. The series has always been about ultra-addictive gameplay... | Read more »
Popclaire talk to us about why The Virus...
Humanity has succumbed to a virus that’s spread throughout the world. Now the dead have risen with a hunger for human flesh, and all that remain are a few survivors. One of those survivors has just called you for help. That’s the plot in POPCLAIRE’... | Read more »
Oceans & Empires preview build sets...
Hugely ambitious sea battler Oceans & Empires is available to play in preview form now on Google Play - but download it quickly, as it’s setting sail away in just a few days. [Read more] | Read more »
Rusty Lake: Roots (Games)
Rusty Lake: Roots 1.1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.4 (iTunes) Description: James Vanderboom's life drastically changes when he plants a special seed in the garden of the house he has inherited.... | Read more »
Flippy Bottle Extreme! and 3 other physi...
Flippy Bottle Extreme! takes on the bottle flipping craze with a bunch of increasingly tricky physics platforming puzzles. It's difficult and highly frustrating, but also addictive. When you begin to master the game, the sense of achievement is... | Read more »
Plants vs. Zombies Heroes guide: How to...
Plants vs. Zombies Heroes surprised us all, presenting a deep deck building experience. It's a great CCG that stands up well to the competition. There are a lot of CCGs vying for players' attention at the moment, but PvZ Heroes is definitely one... | Read more »
Arcane Online takes Online RPG’s to anot...
If you think that you need a desktop to enjoy high quality MMO gaming then Arcane Online hopes to prove you emphatically wrong. An epic fantasy Online RPG set in the land of Eldine, Arcane Online offers an abundance of features and content that... | Read more »
It’s time to step up and start your spoo...
So you’ve just downloaded Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery, and you obviously want to hit the ground running. Well you’re in luck because you just so happen to be reading our very useful guide to playing. First released in July last year, the game has... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

PixelStyle Inexpensive Photo Editor For Mac W...
PixelStyle is an all-in-one Mac Photo Editor with a huge range of high-end filters including lighting, blurs, distortions, tilt-shift, shadows, glows and so forth. PixelStyle Photo Editor for Mac... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100-$140 of...
B&H has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100-$140 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $899 $100 off... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, includes...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, $11 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
21-inch 3.1GHz 4K on sale for $1379, $120 off...
Adorama has the 21″ 3.1GHz 4K iMac on sale $1379.99. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges NY & NJ sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. To purchase an iMac at this price, you must first... Read more
Check Apple prices on any device with the iTr...
MacPrices is proud to offer readers a free iOS app (iPhones, iPads, & iPod touch) and Android app (Google Play and Amazon App Store) called iTracx, which allows you to glance at today’s lowest... Read more
Apple, Samsung, Lead J.D. Power Smartphone Sa...
Customer satisfaction is much higher among smartphone owners currently subscribing to full-service wireless carriers, compared with those purchasing service through a non-contract carrier, according... Read more
Select 9-inch Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale fo...
B&H Photo has select 9.7″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 256GB WiFi iPad Pro: $799 $0 off... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple refurbished 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2... Read more
Apple refurbished 11-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $170 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Napervi...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Security Data Analyst - *Apple* Information...
…data sources need to be collected to allow Information Security to better protect Apple employees and customers from a wide range of threats.Act as the subject Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (Multi-L...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- New Yor...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Yonkers...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.