As the Internet continues to grow as a viable medium for enterprise-class
applications, the tools and technology for developing these applications
continue to advance at a frenetic pace. The state of the technology now allows
for a multitiered application that involves anything from simple scripting
to complex objects. Such technological advances have created an environment
in which multiple developers can work together on a single “logical” application.
The J2EE specification defines a development model and provides supporting
standards and tools for developing multitiered Web-based applications. New
standards are being defined in the Web services arena that extend applications
across enterprise boundaries. Vendors are working feverishly to harness their
integrated development environments (IDE) to include the necessary tools
and features to address the needs of Java-centric Web services programmers.
SilverStream eXtend Work-
bench 1.0 (XWB) is a new breed of software that has been designed to address
this burgeoning market.
I like the name workbench, because it sums up what this product
is all about. This application ties together all the tools you would need
to create a J2EE/Web services application and puts them into one easy-to-use
environment. It follows the J2EE development model and is capable of building
standards-based applications for any J2EE-compliant server. It speeds the
development cycle by providing wizards that can automatically generate much
of the interface code necessary in a J2EE project. SilverStream XWB supports
the full application life cycle, including coding, testing, debugging, deployment,
and maintenance. There’s a lot of help provided in a set of HTML-based help
files, as well as a set of tutorials and sample applications. The eXtend
Workbench Web site (www.silverstream.com/workbench) also has downloads,
discussion forums, news, tips, and techniques.
The eXtend Workbench comes with the SilverStream eXtend Application
Server that’s fully J2EE 1.3–compliant and supports many of the latest Java
technology and Web services standards including EJB 2.0, SOAP 1.1, and JMS
1.0.2. The application server was one of the first to pass all necessary
certification tests and SilverStream is dedicated to supporting future versions
of J2EE as they are approved. Still, the application server is a separate
installation, and Workbench does integrate with most of the major third-party
application servers on the market, including BEA’s WebLogic (6.0 and higher)
and IBM’s WebSphere 4.0. (SilverStream includes ample documentation and samples
that detail how to integrate XWB with other application servers.)
Working with the Product
Installing the XWB was quick and easy. However, the eXtend Application
Server took a little longer to install, and it expects to have a database
already running on the server. I happened to have Microsoft SQL Server already
installed, so I configured the eXtend Server for that database, which turned
out to be pretty simple. The XWB application has a rich graphical look to
it. I’ve come to expect that most Java IDE tools today are built using Java
Swing code , so I was not surprised to see a “Java” look to this application.
I did find it interesting that this version of the eXtend software was targeted
specifically toward Windows-based platforms.
XWB’s edit layout, shown in Figure 1, provides an environment that seemed
familiar and well laid out for me. There are tree and list views on the left
to navigate through project files and directories, an editor window on the
right, and an output window on the bottom for informational messages. The
window panes are resizable, and it has a toolbar, popup menus, and keyboard
shortcuts like any good IDE. The code editor had most of the useful features
I rely on in my favorite text editor, including autoindentation, autocompletion,
and syntax highlighting.
For an even richer coding environment I would have liked bookmarks,
the ability to split the code screen into two sections, and a tabbed view
of all open files. (There didn’t seem to be any flexibility to rearrange
the various screen elements.) The Javaâcode compiler gives the usual
Java error messages on compilation, but the environment has an extremely
useful feature Ð if you click on an error message, the cursor will jump
to the offending line of code in the editor pane.
The wizards are very useful in providing enough options while not being
overly complicated. Another useful feature is the flexibility in project
starting points. From the XWB you can start a project from scratch or from
an existing J2EE project. Once you create a XWB project, you can import existing
files into the project. This way, you can start with a class that implements
business logic functions, and build that class into a J2EE Web service with
just a few clicks through the Web service wizard. Or, you can start from
an interface definition and build your project up from there (see Figure
2). One powerful and convenient function is XWB’s ability to archive and
deploy J2EE projects to any of the supported J2EE application servers.
Either way, the XWB Web service wizards and editors allow the developer
to focus more on the business logic, since much of the Web service framework
is generated for them. SilverStream also included a comprehensive Registry
Manager tool that can help you browse or search for existing Web services,
or publish your own using Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration
(UDDI). This is a useful feature for developers trying to integrate with
other Web services, since they can import WSDL definitions without leaving
the XWB environment.
While I only tested this with the SilverStream eXtend Application Server,
the configuration process was straightforward, and once configured, deployment
was as easy as clicking a button. I believe that’s one of the great advantages
of environments such as SilverStream’s eXtend. Once configured, tasks that
would involve long and complex command-line program deployment calls can
be simplified into one click of the mouse. This allows developers to focus
on design and coding issues, and worry less about which parameters indicate
deploying only changed files.
As for speed, the application seemed to respond well on my test platform,
as long as I didn’t try to run too many other applications simultaneously.
I’m the type of person who likes to have five to six programs running at
a time, and I began to notice some lag in switching back and forth. I wouldn’t
really be concerned, however, because with faster hardware and more memory,
I’m sure that this level of multitasking would perform just fine. Compiling,
archiving, and deploying projects from within the environment all seemed
to run well.
SilverStream’s eXtend Workbench helps speed up the development of J2EE
projects and Web services applications. I’d recommend that the developer
have some basic knowledge of the various components in a J2EE project and
Web services standards before using a comprehensive product such as eXtend.
The tutorials do a wonderful job of walking you through the implementation
process. However, a reasonable background in Java and Web services will make
it much easier to harness the power in SilverStream’s eXtend product line.
SilverStream eXtend Workbench does an excellent job of providing all
the tools you’ll need to develop complex J2EE/Web services projects using
a single IDE. Integration with the leading application servers makes eXtend
an ideal development environment if you already have an application server
– or you can use the SilverStream eXtend Application Server. Java developers
with little or no knowledge of J2EE design concepts may have trouble being
efficient with this tool at first, but with a basic understanding of J2EE,
I believe XWB will help any developer be more efficient in designing, developing,
and deploying a J2EE/Web services application.
2 Federal St.
Billerica, MA 01821
Phone: 888 823-9700
E-mail: [email protected]
Computer: Gateway Solo 9300
Processor: Pentium III 333 MHz
Memory: 160MB RAM
Platform: Windows NT Workstation 4.0 (Service Pack 4)
Platforms: Windows NT Workstation 4.0, Windows NT Server 4.0, or Windows
Pricing: Free for a limited time to J2EE and Web services developers. Application
Server Developer Edition includes a single version of the application server
and the eXtend Workbench development environment, priced at $495 per developer
seat. Workgroup Edition (Windows and Unix) limited to 25 connected users,
priced at $995 per CPU. Enterprise deployment pricing begins at $5,000 per
Target Audience: Java J2EE developers
Level: Entry-level J2EE (with some background knowledge) to advanced
Pros: Open and extensible IDE integrates with other tools and works with
several industry-standard application servers; additional product offerings
Cons: As with many Java-based applications, you’ll want a powerful machine
to get good performance. Not for Java beginners. eXtend Workbench only supports