February 14, 2002, 12:00 AM — IBM's WebSphere Studio provides an integrated development environment
(IDE) for developing Java-language applications, especially server-side
applications. IBM recently made a preview, or pre-release, version
available for Linux developers that can be downloaded from http://www-
An IDE organizes your work in projects. IDEs typically include a text
editor, project management tools, a debugger, and tools to
automatically rebuild the project when you make changes. IDEs bundle
all these tools together into one integrated graphical environment. For
server-side applications, Java IDEs add tools to help create Java
Server Pages (JSPs), Java servlets, and Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs).
WebSphere Studio is now based on the same core as Eclipse -- a new free
IDE IBM plans to release as open source. Eclipse provides a framework
for plugging-in extra tools. In fact, Eclipse (http://www.eclipse.org)
defines all basic IDE functions as plug-in tools. For example, all the
support for java applications comes in the form of plug-ins, and you
can download an early version of a C++ plug-in as well.
To get around complaints about slow graphic performance in Java
applications, Eclipse uses SWT -- a custom windowing toolkit from IBM.
SWT improves performance by using native windowing system widgets.
Consequently, SWT is not as portable as Java's Swing graphic toolkit,
which is used for most Java applications. While Swing runs most
everywhere Java does, SWT for Eclipse is restricted to Linux and
Windows at this time.
SWT makes a big difference. Even with something as simple as pulling
down a menu, Java Swing applications tend to display a slight, but
noticeable, delay. This may not seem like much, but it interrupts your
chain of thought. SWT-based applications, like Eclipse, display a
snappy performance when pulling down menus.
WebSphere Studio and Eclipse aren't the only IDEs for Java development
on Linux, though. Borland's JBuilder runs on Linux and you can download
the low-end version for free at http://www.borland.com/jbuilder.
Sun's Forte is another IDE whose low-end version can be downloaded for
free from http://www.sun.com/forte/ffj. Sun also released Forte's
source code. A full version of this IDE, called NetBeans, can be
downloaded from http://www.netbeans.org. NetBeans is similar to Eclipse
in that NetBeans was designed to allow developers to plug-in new tools.