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One of the most efficient ways to produce programs is to use an IDE
(Integrated Development Environment). Why aren't they used more in an
educational setting? Probably the main reason is that it takes time to learn the
tool, time that instructors feel is not central to learning programming. They
also hide details that may be important to learn about. Once you know how to do
everything on your own, it's easier to understand and use these systems.
These provide extensive programming support for editing, building GUI
interfaces, project management, debugging, etc. These offer far more than is
required by the student Java programmer, and may be a barrier to learning Java
because there is a lot to learn about how to use them.
- A free, open-source, IDE is available from Sun at
is a good choice for students because of the good GUI form editor and the
editing and debugging facilities.. See
NetBeans IDE for
more information. java.sun.com
has a nice bundle of NetBeans with the JDK. If you don't install the bundle,
you must install the JDK first.
Version 4.0 (Java
5 (1.5)) is better than
version 3.6 (Java 1.4), BUT it has a bug that prevents it from reading
console input. If your programs are GUI based, and/or need Java 5 features,
use NetBeans 4.0.
- IBM's free Eclipse IDE,
www.eclipse.org, is popular, and is the first choice of many
professionals. It supports the non-standard SWT GUI library.
- Borland's JBuilder (www.borland.com)
is good and the JBuilder 2005 Foundation Edition seems to be free. See
- There are other IDEs, but most of these aren't suitable for student
IDEA is reportedly excellent, but expensive. It gets more favorable
reviews by everyone who has used it than any other IDE. There is a $99
- Don't use Microsoft's Visual J++. Other parts of their Visual .NET
Studio may be good, but they have never provided good Java support.
Also, steer clear of Symantec's Visual Cafe for Java, which is generally
given poor reviews.
These are simpler to use for small projects, but typically don't have nearly
as many features, eg, no graphical user interface editor. Not all have been
updated to Java 5 the last time I looked, so check before downloading.
- Many like it. The Control Structure Diagramming is nice. Easy to
To enable Java 5 features, start with the Compiler menu:
Compiler > Compiler Settings > Workspace > Compiler (Tab) > Environment
then choose "j2sdk(1.5) (prefer JDK compiler)", and click the Use
button, then OK.
- A popular, simple, free development system. It enforces indentation and
allows immediate evaluation of expressions. Java 5 seems to be suported in
recent beta versions. drjava.org.
- JCreator (www.jcreator.com)
- Free and "Pro" versions. A number of students have used this. Not
updated to Java 5 as of 2004-12-12.
- Gel, free from
www.gexperts.com is another possible student-level IDE. I've never
used it. Not updated to Java 5 as of 2005-01-20.
- JavaBeginner from
www.javatoolsoft.com. I haven't taken a look at this relatively new
offering, and at $50, I probably will wait to hear what others say
first. Not updated to Java 5 as of 2004-12-12.
- CodeGuide (www.omnicore.com
- $49 student price, free trial, Java 5.
- BlueJ (www.bluej.org)
- Used in some intro courses, but programs use a non-standard interface
and it doesn't produce real java programs.
- And many more...
Editors that run javac
Some programming editors will compile Java by linking to Sun's JDK.
- Free, open-source, and good. This is my favorite editor. Has full set of
plugins, eg to indent the source and compile.
- Good, but doesn't indent program. Has brace matching feature. Pay, but
can continue to use trial version with nags. If the Java SDK is installed
first, TextPad will allow compilation of Java programs from the editor.
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