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Version 1.0 offered developer productivity, ease of use and powerful features. Now, with a new high performance compiler, connections to more enterprise systems, team programming support and exploitation of the latest in Java technology, VisualAge for Java, Version 2.0, looks like a great choice for Java programmers.

IBM's VisualAge for Java is a Java application development environment for building Java applications, applets, servlets and JavaBean components. Its various editions provide developer productivity, performance, ease of use and various Java technology features. The Entry Edition can be downloaded free from IBM's Web site so you can see what VisualAge for Java has to offer. The Professional Edition can be used by power users wanting easy access to relational data as well as by programmers just getting their feet wet in Java. The Enterprise Edition is used by developers working in large teams, developing high performance or heterogeneous applications or needing to connect Java programs to existing enterprise systems. IBM has also packaged a set of Java-based tools for Web development teams inside the e-business Edition.

The VisualAge Developer Domain, Subscription for Java, offers a single access point for building business-critical Java applications including Java-related samples, education, support and the ability to network with Java professionals. Solution developers can also join IBM's Object Connection - Partners in Development program to obtain early copies of VisualAge for Java and assistance in marketing their productions directly to VisualAge users.

Latest Java Technology
Version 2.0 of VisualAge for Java, just released by IBM, supports the JDK 1.1.6, including advanced Java features such as Swing 1.0.2 (with conversion support from AWT to Swing), inner classes and anonymous classes, JAR files and the Java Native Interface (JNI).

VisualAge for Java has up-to-date component-based development and visual programming techniques to maximize productivity and code reuse. The IDE includes advanced coding and debugging tools with a built-in source and version control system. When you save your work, the IDE automatically keeps track of your source code, allowing you to keep an audit trail of your project and to back out any undesired changes. Robust version control facilities help manage multiple releases of Java project simultaneously. Windows developers can check in/out their Java code to VisualAge TeamConnection, Clear-Case or PVCS. The Visual Composition Editor lets you graphically construct your Java programs from JavaBean components that have been prebuilt and tested by IBM or other solution developers.

Reduce Complexity
Enterprise Edition comes with an integrated team development environment that improves productivity and reuse levels for any size team. Each developer gets a personalized workspace that is integrated with a collaborative repository providing fine-grained versioning of individual components, change identification and impact analysis across multiple projects, which avoids time-consuming switching between the repository and the development environment and gives developers instant "live access" to a library of reusable components.

Access Corporate Data
Relational data stored in any JDBC-enabled database can be accessed from Java applications using the prebuilt Data Access Beans. The Enterprise and e-business Editions include elements of DB2 Universal Database (UDB), Developer's Edition software for Intel, to deliver a solution for creating Web-ready data applications. DB2 UDB links business information to the Internet and handles tasks as diverse as business intelligence (decision support, data warehousing and data mining) and transaction processing.

Performs Like C++
The Enterprise Edition of VisualAge for Java now has a High Performance Compiler (HPC) for Java that maximizes the execution speed of the server code on OS/2, Windows NT, AIX, OS/400 and OS/390. Applications can also be fine-tuned with JInsight Profiler, a runtime performance analyzer that graphically displays information such as execution time lines and call patterns. IBM's Servlet Builder, packaged with Enterprise Edition, uses visual programming techniques to build server applications and Web-enable off-the-shelf business components.

Figure 1
The Repository Explorer window

Test and Debug Applications
The Enterprise Edition toolkit contains cross-platform debugging, testing and performance analysis tools that are accessed from your development workstation and target applications built to run on OS/2, Windows NT, AIX, OS/400 and OS/390. In addition, the Remote Debugger tests and debugs interpreted Java, compiled Java and C++ running on multiple platforms, making it a true multitier development environment.

Connect to Web
The Enterprise Edition also provides a collection of Enterprise Access Builders that gives Java programs instant access to enterprise systems such as relational data, CICS transactions or SAP R/3 applications. The approach facilitates access to multiple systems from a single Java application and uses a consistent programming interface across diverse enterprise systems to reduce any learning curve and increase application runtime performance. Enterprise Access Builders include connections to CICS (ECI, EPI and EXCI), TXSeries (Encina), SAP R/3, Data, C++ and RMI. The Enterprise Access Builder for Persistence provides a set of tools that automate the task of mapping the persistent state of Java objects to relational databases using the industry standard Enterprise JavaBean programming model.

Figure 2
The MainView window

Build Total Solutions
Enterprise Edition includes SanFrancisco wizards for building applications from SanFrancisco Application Business Components. VisualAge can also be used to build Java-based business productivity applications using the Lotus eSuite components. IBM is shipping new Tivoli Beans used to make Java applications "ready to manage" with Tivoli's enterprise management software. Tivoli lets you track activities such as version upgrade, daily use monitoring, and operation and distribution to target systems. The IDL Development environment can be used to create and manage applications that can communicate with CORBA business objects, such as those deployed on IBM's Component Broker application server.

Create Dynamic Web Applications
VisualAge for Java, e-business Edition, contains tools to create Web applications that will reach more people, cover more content and drive new business opportunities. In addition to a Java development environment, it includes NetObjects Fusion to integrate the major steps in building and publishing a Web site; Lotus BeanMachine to enrich a Web site with multimedia, special effects, smart forms and live data; DB2 UDB Developer's Edition to test and debug DB2 applications; Lotus Domino Go Webserver; and Netscape Navigator.

Figure 3
The Workbench window

Special Features for S/390
VisualAge for Java's Enterprise Toolkit for S/390 provides Java development tools that are optimized for the S/390 environment. Developers can use Java to create new CICS transactions, prescreen Java programs with JPort to ensure OS/390 portability and profile OS/390 Java applications to detect performance bottlenecks.

Special Features for AS/400
AS/400 programmers can use VisualAge for Java to automatically connect Java clients to existing AS/400 applications. Its AS/400 affinity classes support the AS/400 as a world class e-business server. The Java development solution for OS/400 V4R2 automatically connects Java clients to the AS/400 Integrated File System (IFS), extends existing AS/400 (RPG and COBOL) applications to the Web, converts 5250 display files to visual JavaBeans and makes the transition to Java using a multimedia tutorial, "Java for RPG Programmers."

Figure 4
The Comparing MainView window

Development Platform Support
All VisualAge for Java editions run on Windows 95 and NT 4.0 with service pak 3. Entry, Professional, and Enterprise Editions run on OS/2 Warp 4.0 and Enterprise Edition runs on AIX 4.2 and 4.3. IBM's Web site has the complete list of system requirements and prerequisites.

For more information contact IBM at www.software.ibm.com/ad/vajava/.

About the Author
Scott Davison has been executive editor of SYS-CON Publications, Inc., for over four years. He has been in IT, applications development, for 20 years. He has also been a consultant for Exxon, Nabisco and AT&T. You can e-mail him at [email protected]


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