TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Java IDE Olympics
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:10
Column Tag:Javatech™

Java Tool Olympics

Comparing the various Java IDEs

By Will Iverson

The Ground Rules

The objective of this article is to give the readers a sense of the current Java tools. We will look at Sun’s Java Development Kit (JDK) 1.02, Symantec Café DR2, Metrowerks CodeWarrior 9, and Natural Intelligence’s Roaster DR2.1. With the exception of the minimalist JDK 1.02, all of these tools all follow the same basic project system familiar to users of traditional C/C++ environments (from which most of these tools are derived). We will look at these tools, also known as Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), from the perspective of the traditional Edit-Compile-Debug cycle they are based on.

Keep in mind the relative footprints of the various tools, given below. Note that all of the tools made use of up to a few megabytes of system memory during compiles. When looking at the numbers below, keep in mind that they do not include the memory required to launch the various runtimes (typically another 3MB or so, plus a couple of megabytes of System memory).

All tests were performed on an Apple Power Macintosh 7500/100 (100Mhz 601), with 64MB of RAM running System 7.5.3. VM was off.

Editing

The baseline Sun JDK does not include an editor. If you hate yourself, you might want to use SimpleText as your source editor, but if you are on a tight or nonexistent budget you will want to grab BBEdit Lite from your closest InfoMac mirror at <ftp://mirrors.aol.com//pub/info-mac/_Text_Processing/bbe/ bbedit-lite-351.hqx>. All of the other environments feature full source code editors. The following comparative chart identifies features. All of these editors are more than adequate for day to day programming.

fig 1. Roaster Editor

fig 2. Café Editor

fig 3. CodeWarrior Editor

All of the IDE editors support balancing, shifting blocks of text left and right, multifile search and replace, DOS and UNIX linefeeds, and method popup menus. There are subtle differences in the intelligence and flexibility of the various syntax highlighters as demonstrated by fig. 1-3.

All of these editors (with the exception of the JDK) are adequate for most Java development work. On the whole, the differences are relatively minor, but specific features may be of interest to certain developers.

Browsing

Java is an object-oriented language, and as such both graphical and “Smalltalk” style browsers are available in all of the environments save the JDK. While the appearance and ease of use of the various browsers varies widely, the functionality of the browsers is quite similar. All of these browsers require a compile to produce the information necessary to display the browsers.

fig 4. Roaster Browser

If nothing else, the Roaster browser was the most colorful and conveyed the most information in an easy to understand format. It allows pruning of subclasses by clicking on the nexus points, although it did oddly not collapse the layers when the sub-nodes were pruned.

fig 5. CodeWarrior Browser

The CodeWarrior browser also supports pruning, and collapses intelligently when subnodes are removed. Both the CodeWarrior and Café browsers require large amounts of screen space to be even moderately useful. Both the CodeWarrior and Café graphical browsers support type-ahead keyboard navigation.

fig 6. Café Browser

The Café browser offers a high degree of control over configuration-the initially confusing buttons in the upper toolbar allow a user to split and remove panes and define the content of each pane. User pruning is allowed, but the browser does offer an option to only display the sub- and superclasses of the currently selected object.

Compiling

To measure the compilers, we developed three basic tests. We tested the speed of large builds by combining the sources of 39 files in the JDK, and we tested the time to compile and launch a single change to a single file. In addition, we identified five common mistakes and tested the ability of the compilers to generate appropriate error messages.

As a side note, only CodeWarrior and the JDK attempt to support .zip files and standalone applications. Both involve a relatively complex process of copying resources by hand with ResEdit-a laborious and unintuitive process.

Large Builds

The following files were combined into a single project and built: AniArea.java, AppletFrame.java, BounceItem.java, ButtonFilter.java, CardTest.java, ClickArea.java, CLSFractal.java, DelayedSoundArea.java, DitherTest.java, DrawTest.java, GraphicsTest.java, HighlightFilter.java, HrefButtonArea.java, ImageMap.java, ImageMapArea.java, ImageTest.java, JackhammerDuke.java, Matrix3D.java, NameArea.java, NervousText.java, RoundHrefButtonArea.java, SoundArea.java, ThreeD.java, TicTacToe.java, TumbleItem.java, XYZApp.java, Animator.java, ArcTest.java, Blink.java, Chart.java, GraphApplet.java, HighlightArea.java, ImageTape.java, LinkArea.java, MouseTrack.java, RotateFilter.java, RoundButtonFilter.java, SpreadSheet.java.

Small Builds

Using the MoleculeViewer as a reference, the experiences with rapid turnaround varied widely. The goal was to create a project, add the MoleculeViewer files Matrix3D.java and XYZApp.java, build the files, make a minor change (pressing the spacebar once in a comment), and run the applet.

The experience varied wildly. The Metrowerks IDE let me drag the files into the project file, but attempts to run the applet from the IDE failed. The option to build the files as a series of .class files in a folder simply would not allow me to select the Run command (it was permanently grayed out), and the option to build a “Runnable Java Applet” failed to run as well. Dragging and dropping the example1.html file on the Metrowerks Java runtime worked perfectly, but dropping back to the Finder every time I wanted to run my Applet was a serious inconvenience.

Café allowed me to launch directly from the environment, but only after I added the example1.html file to the project - without doing that, it gave me a completely useless error -35. Turning all of the various confirmation dialogs, the time from adding an extra space to a comment at the top of the XYZApp.java file and running through finishing launching the applet took approximately 17 seconds.

Roaster also allowed the launching of applets directly from the environment in roughly 17 seconds as well. What was most interesting about both Café and Roaster was where the slowdown occurred-Café took just under five seconds to compile the file, and spent the rest of the time waiting for the runtime to launch and load the applet. Roaster, conversely, took just under five seconds to launch the runtime, but spent the remainder of the time compiling. In theory, both vendors could chop the turnaround times in at least a third by spending more time working on their shortcomings.

Cafe Test Notes...

Debugger Info turned ON, Optimize Code turned OFF

Note that the SPM is fully threaded (with no way to turn this threading off) both between traditional application processes and internally.

CW9 Test Notes...

Note that the CW9 IDE is threaded (with no way to turn this threading off) between traditional application processes. It would appear from the timing that the same compiler as the JDK is used, with additional time yielded to background processes.

JDK Test Notes...

Debugger Info turned ON, Optimize Code turned OFF, All other checkbox options turned OFF, Disable Threaded Compiles OFF, Partition set to 2430K

Note that with Threaded Compiles turned off, the compiler apparently yielded no time to the system - e.g. the Now QuickDay menubar clock stopped ticking.

Roaster Test Notes...

Debugger Info turned ON

The javac compiler was used. Attempts to build the test suite with the Roaster compiler caused the IDE to quietly terminate. Note that the Roaster IDE is very minimally threaded (with no way to turn this threading off) between traditional application processes. Roaster uses the Javac compiler from Sun. An interesting sidenote - when I compiled files within Roaster with the JDK compiler open, Roaster would send AppleEvents to the JDK and use it to compile.

Error Reporting

All of the IDEs generated errors which are routed to a window. In all of the IDEs, the errors may be doubled-clicked on and the appropriate window will be opened in the editor and the selection set to the appropriate location (the exception to this is the JDK, which opens the file but has no way to communicate the line number. BBEdit Lite allows you to display line number along the left edge of the window, so this was not an insurmountable difficulty).

The five errors we tested were all located in the file XYZApp.java...

1) Commenting out the opening brace on line 49.

2) Commenting out the declaration int ZsortMap[ ]; on line 53.

3) Commenting out the catch(Exception e) { }; block on lines 264-5.

4) Changing if (backBuffer == null) to if (backBuffer = null) on line 334.

5) Removing the arguments of the mat.transform function on line 150.

All of the environments returned appropriate error messages-indeed, the messages were identical, revealing the common code base from which they derive. The only significant difference between the environments was the ability of the CodeWarrior environment to identify the exact location on the line of the error. This is an invaluable feature when deciphering unexpected compiler errors.

Debugging

The baseline Sun JDK does not include a debugger. The implementation of Java from Sun on other platforms is based on TCP/IP, which allows additional capabilities such as remote debugging. All of the other IDEs feature source-level debugging, with a wildly varying set of capabilities.

Metrowerks

The debugger required me to drop the .class file I wished to debug on the debugger application, and then manually drop the .html file on the Metrowerks runtime. I was able to step within a function reasonably well, but stepping in and out had erratic results at best. I was unable to view any useful variables, including the ever-useful this.

Roaster

fig 7. Roaster variable display

The Roaster debugger was by far the most full-featured of the debuggers I reviewed. It displayed variables and the calling chain in floaters (including an interesting popup view of variables-the “floating” view appears when you move the pointer over any field which does not fit in the column). A “Class List” floater allows you to select classes, unload them, and then the interpreter reloads the class when needed-a very interesting step toward a truly dynamic language. The debugger uses the same browser model as the editor, a very convenient capability. Finally, the debugger allows you to edit and recompile the code directly from the debugging pane (with a warning that breakpoints may no longer function).

Café

The Café debugger displayed a stack crawl, and stepping in and out of source code worked well. There was no variable display whatsoever, however, a critical omission. The Café debugger was also the only debugger not to feature a bytecode view.

Project Management

With the exception of the JDK, all of these tools are centered around a project manager of some sort. For many small applets, the project management system is overkill. Disappointingly, all of the IDEs require that you work within this metaphor, despite the fact that Java’s runtime linking completely obviates any need. To simply check the syntax of a source file, the IDEs all require that you first add the file to a project.

For projects involving more than a few files, however, this system works reasonably well. The different project managers look quite similar and perform similar functionality. The chart below highlights the differences between the different environments. As of this writing, the project managers were all satisfactory for projects of up to a few hundred files - more than enough for any Java-based project in the near future.

fig 8. Café Project Manager

The Café Project Manager is by far the most sophisticated of all of the IDEs. It displays Finder icons, allows dragging files both into the environment from the Finder and also drop launching files from inside the project file onto Finder icons. It features built-in Projector source control and nested folders. It allows sorting by any column by clicking on the column name, and multiple option sets.

fig 9. Roaster Package Manager

The Roaster IDE offered far fewer bells and whistles than the Café Project Manager as the rather sparse display in fig. 9 will attest. Roaster is unusually intelligent in one very important way, however. It will automatically group files by package statement, a very intelligent and useful feature. To demonstrate this, I added package myPackage; statements to the two .java files, and Roaster automatically moved the files into the hierarchy displayed above-no user interaction beyond making the project was required.

fig 10. Metrowerks Project Manager

The Metrowerks IDE sparse but straightforward project management. Source control is available with CodeManager as an add-on product, with commands executed via ToolServer.

Java Runtime

Also referred to as the interpreter, the Java Runtime is the portion of the Java package which executes the bytecode generated by the compiler, transforming the bytecode into native code. Each environment includes a different runtime, and as of this writing Apple had shipped the Mac OS Runtime for Java 1.0a1. All of these runtimes toss files all over your System Folder and your Extensions Folder, creating a potential support nightmare. If and when Apple integrates a common implementation of Java into the operating system, the issue of which runtime is used will become moot. As the focus of this review is on the tools, space limitations prevent extensive reviews of the performance of the various runtimes. All of the runtimes require more than 2MB and less than 5MB of space to run,

Default Partition

Café 5MB

Roaster 3MB

JDK 2.5MB

CodeWarrior 3.5MB

Apple (MRJ 1.0a1) 1MB

All of the environments allocate a fair amount of additional temp memory (which appears as System Software under About This Macintosh. Typically, the runtimes would allocate at a minimum 2-3MB of additional memory, and potentially up to 10MB of additional temp mem. Anecdotally, there was a fairly high correlation between the amount of memory available to the runtime and the performance. Note that the Café default partition appeared to be set high-it appeared to behave quite reasonably when set to the suggested minimum of 3MB.

It is necessary to clarify a potentially confusing bit of terminology. Some people confuse a Just-in-time (JIT) compiler with a “native” compiler. The simplest implementation of a runtime converts bytecode serially, “forgetting” code as soon as it executes. A JIT runtime remembers what it has converted and dispatches intelligently directly to the converted code when it encounters a method it has already compiled. In theory, a JIT could perform runtime optimization specific to the processor it is executing on, thereby outperforming traditionally compiled code. The reality, of course, is that the current best case for a simple runtime is likely to be roughly equal to the performance of the original 68K emulator, with the best case for a JIT emulator near that of the DR emulators introduced with the PCI Power Macintosh and SpeedDoubler.

The Winner Is...

Basically, the true victor is the consumer. All of these environments will do the job quite reasonably, with three vendors fighting tooth-and-nail over this market. Of all of the environments, the Roaster environment shows the greatest number of Java-specific innovations. Café is the most polished of the three, barring the debugger. The CodeWarrior Java implementation is the least impressive from a tool perspective-Java is “just another” language, like Pascal or C/C++, but it has the greatest attention to detail for deployment. All three are crippled in various ways, and all have certain golden spots. I encourage you to explore the vendor’s web sites for more information, and if possible to purchase all three to make your own evaluation-or to wait until they mature.

What I’d Like To See

After spending quite a bit of time with all of these environments, what struck me over and over was the lack of significant timesaving features and basic functionality. I’ve organized these gripes and requests into two basic categories, one directed at Apple and the other at the tools vendors.

Apple

• A single, robust, easy-to-use and install high-performance runtime, installed by default by a standard System installation as a single shared library.

• Easy, straightforward calling conventions from Java to C and back, at least as easy to use as the Mixed Mode interfaces.

• Macintosh Toolbox interfaces

• Easy, consistent method of developing standalone applications. I didn’t delve into this aspect of the tools at length, because the process is somewhat tricky and varies depending on vendor. This would most likely take the form of a new resource type. Compilers could be set to pipe bytecode output as resources, which would then automatically be merged into the application by the various project managers. This would allow developers to mix native PowerPC, 68K, and Java code all within a single application file.

Tools Vendors

• The ability to compile Java source without a project file.

• More Java specific support throughout, such as Roaster’s package support.

• C++ to Java conversion tools

• The ability to generate native 68K and PowerPC code instead of bytecode

The thing which strikes me over and over about Java is the vast discrepancy between the potential and the reality. All of the tools have serious rough edges which make them feel as though they were rushed to market (which they were). None of the tools are geared toward serious development-they are all adequate for relatively trivial applet development, but not real Macintosh applications. We are closer to the next evolutionary step from C++ today than at any time since Dylan-let’s not screw it up, OK?

For More Information

Symantec Café http://café.symantec.com/

Natural Intelligence Roaster http://www.natural.com/

Metrowerks CodeWarrior http://www.metrowerks.com/

Sun JDK http://www.javasoft.com/

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Baseball Battle Review
Baseball Battle Review By Jennifer Allen on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE HITTINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Simple and cute, Baseball Battle is a fairly fun baseball game for those looking for something... | Read more »
Checkmark 2.1 Update Released, and it’s...
Checkmark 2.1 Update Released, and it’s on Sale for a Limited Time Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Labor Day Weekend MacBook Pro sale; 15-inch m...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Labor Day Weekend iPad mini sale; $50 to $100...
Best Buy has the iPad mini with Retina Display (WiFi models) on sale for $50 off MSRP on their online store for Labor Day Weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
It’s Official: Apple Issues Invitations To Se...
Apple has issued one of its characteristically cryptic press invitations for a special event to be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in hometown Cupertino on Sept. 9, 2014 at 10:00 am... Read more
Tablet Shipments To See First On-year Decline...
TrendForce analyst Caroline Chen notes that when the iPad launched in 2010, it was an instant hit and spurred a tablet PC revolution, with tablets so popular that that notebook PC sales stagnated and... Read more
SOBERLINK Releases Apple iOS Compatible Handh...
Cypress, California based SOBERLINK, Inc., creator of the first handheld Breathalyzer designed to improve recovery outcomes, continues to show prominence in the mobile alcohol monitoring space with... Read more
New 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale again for $999, s...
Best Buy has the new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their online store. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for online orders only, in-... Read more
Smartphone Outlook Remains Strong for 2014, U...
According to a new mobile phone forecast from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, more than 1.25 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide in 2014,... Read more
Save up to $60 with Apple refurbished iPod to...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Many, but not all... Read more
12-Inch MacBook Air Coming in 4Q14 or 2015 –...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that according to Taiwan-based upstream supply chain insiders, Apple plans to launch a thinner MacBook model either at year end 2014 or in 2015, and that... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
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 (US) - A...
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 (US) - A...
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 (US) - A...
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
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.