EVERY YEAR, Java Report corrals its stable of writers and asks them which Java products
are their preferred choices. This year, that question was tougher to answer than ever before, both
because of the high quality of competing Java products currently available and the sheer number of them.
Annual Writers' Choice
Great Java Products
Our approach was simple and straightforward: We sent a list of more than 750 products to some 60
Java Report writers and asked them to cast their votes for the top 3 in each of 11 categories.
We didn't expect every writer to possess intimate knowledge of every product on this daunting list,
but we were determined to give everyone the opportunity to consider all the colors on the ever-expanding
Java pallet. Note: The responses here are strictly the opinions of our writers. There was no formal
To their credit, our writers plunged in, unintimidated, and made the most of that opportunity. We
heard from Java Report contributors from all over the U.S., as well as England, Europe, and
South America. We even received votes from Slovenia. All our voters are experts in their various
fields, from in-the-trenches programmers to big-picture architects, and they ranged in temperament from
the hard-core Java faithful to enthusiastic agnostics. And all have written articles published in
Java Report this year.
As we suspected, the top three products were already on their radar screens, but most of our contributors
weren't satisfied until they'd given additional high marks in many of the categories. "It's great to
spotlight the top three," one writer told us, "but some products that might be a step or two behind the
front runners still deserve a mention." We agreed, and have included several products in honorable-mention
lists in each category. As far as we're concerned, every product listed here is worth
John K. Waters, Product Editor
WEBSPHERE APPLICATION SERVER:
IBM's Java servlet-based Web app server for the deployment and management of Web-based applications,
from simple Web sites to powerful e-business solutions. Includes a servlet runtime engine, high-performance
database connectors, CORBA-compliant ORBs, and application services for session and state management.
"This product signals that Java Application Servers have 'grown up.' It moves Enterprise Java into
the Fortune 500
in a big way."
BEA SYSTEMS' WEBXPRESS DIVISION
A Java app server for developing, integrating, deploying, and managing large-scale, distributed Web,
network, and database applications. Release 4.0 introduces clustering of EJB/RMI/JNDI, high availability
for EJB/RMI/JNDI, dynamic JDBC connection pools, platform-specific performance packs, and TUXEDO
"A company with which I work employed WebLogic for a Web application they were creating. It was
the only thing on the market that would let them do what they needed to do. What impressed me most was
that after two or three system upgrades and a couple revs of the major browsers, everything still worked!"
POWERTIER FOR EJBS:
Provides container-managed persistent objects, and optimizes performance with shared transactional caching.
Integrates with leading component modeling and development tools, delivering an open solution for
server-based rapid application development.
"Many application servers merely focus on EJB technology and are often lacking in their support
for the full J2EE platform. Persistence PowerTier provides a complete enterprise Java solution."
COMPILERS AND VIRTUAL MACHINES
HIGH PERFORMANCE COMPILER FOR JAVA:
Compiles Java byte code into optimized platform-specific native object code. The resulting code is
generally significantly faster than the byte code executed in a JVM/JIT environment. The degree of
performance improvement depends upon the application.
TOWER TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
A native Java deployment compiler and runtime environment. It compiles Java byte code into optimized
self-contained native executables for a range of server-class computers allowing software developers
to "write once, compile anywhere."
"Tower/J fills an important need for speed in server-based Java applications. Java's original
developers envisioned it as a client-side environment, but Java's true home has emerged on the server.
That's caused some performance problems, the needs of single-user client applets and multi-user
server-side applications differ. That's where Tower/J comes in. It isn't and won't be the only solution."
Philip J. Gill
A stand-alone *code editing system* from which users launch multiple compilers or debuggers. Includes
syntax coloring, alignment styles, templates and addition of keywords, Java source file symbols
parsing, compiler error parsing, Java API database assistance, and synchronization with Visual J++ in
Microsoft Developer's Studio.
JCONNECT FOR JDBC:
A 100% Java Type 4 JDBC driver that translates JDBC calls directly into Sybase's native protocol,
TDS (Tabular Data Stream). The product directly supports SQL Server, SQL Anywhere, and more than
25 other data sources (e.g., Oracle, DB2, Informix, etc.) through Sybase's Middleware products,
OmniConnect and DirectConnect.
"Very fast, reliable library from Sybase to communicate with its database,
System 11 and up. Implemented in pure Java."
DB2 UNIVERSAL DATABASE:
A multimedia, Web-enabled database for decision support, data warehousing and data mining, OLAP and OLTP.
"IBM's commitment to Java is shown in the Java programming support features they've included in
DB2, as well as their goal to become the No. 1 database
POET OBJECT DATABASE:
POET SOFTWARE CORPORATION
A multi-platform ODBMS with language bindings for Java, Visual Basic/ActiveX, and C++. It supports
the ODMG 2.0 Java API (the Sun-endorsed standard for persistence in Java), which enables database
functionality without SQL programming. Features include native object persistence, navigational
access, and client-or-server-executed queries.
"A powerfull and easy to use object database. It lets me think about things other than object
persistence; it allows me to think about the content. I haven't had a single negative experience
with it. The level of reliability really convinced me."
THE OBJECT PEOPLE
A robust, object-to-relational mapping tool that maps Java objects to both legacy and new databases.
It lets developers work at the object level, so no SQL programming is required. Supports 2-tier, fat
client architecture or a 3-tier application server architecture with thin clients.
"A rock-solid, mature product that fits a lot of needs. The better you understand the problems
of object-to-relational mapping, the more you appreciate how well TOPLink addresses those problems."
SQL ANYWHERE STUDIO:
Provides a comprehensive package for mobile computing business needs. The integrated product set
includes: Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere 6.0, a small footprint, feature-rich SQL database; Sybase
SQL Remote for bi-directional replication; Sybase Central for simplified administration; SQL Modeler
for graphical database modeling; InfoMaker for query and analysis; PowerDynamo for Web-enabling
corporate data; ODBC and JDBC drivers.
"A real industrial-strength product, very strong on leveraging the power of Java with some
particularly smart integration of Java and SQL. Stands up well in performance, too."
John Miller Crawford
INETSOFT TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION
A pure Java report generation package. It sports an easy to use API for generating and printing reports
from any Java application or applet. The package includes built-in report previewing, large number of
pre-built table styles, and adapters to quickly add report elements from application and database data sources.
"This is a really well-designed, stable, powerful API for report programming.
I hope a future version will bring a more powerful report designer, but right now I can live with a
JAVA FOUNDATION CLASSES:
JAVA SOFTWARE DIVISION
Sun's GUI Class Library for Java and the hands-down top vote-getter in this category which came as no surprise.
ROGUE WAVE SOFTWARE INC.
Incorporates customizable, dynamic charts into Java applets or applications. Provides prebuilt chart types,
or developers may use the charting primitives. The product's data model provides for dynamic updates of
charted data, and built-in callback mechanisms provide drill-down capability for various portions of a chart.
TEA SET WIDGETS:
INETSOFT TECHNOLOGY CORP.
A large collection of JavaBeans GUI components including Grid, Tabbed Folder, Tree, Graph, MultiList,
ComboBox, and many more.
INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT
VISUALAGE FOR JAVA ENTERPRISE:
Application development environment that works with existing business data (JDBC), applications (CORBA,
Java RMI, SAP, R/3) and transactions (CICS, TXSeries). New Enterprise Toolkit
(Win95/NT,OS/2, AIX,OS/400,OS/390) contains a high-performance compiler to maximize speed of server
code and a remote debug facility to test enterprise Java solutions from browser through to server.
The team repository manages large-scale development projects by providing automatic version control
for Java applications, JavaBeans components, applets, servlets, and IDL (CORBA)-based applications.
"Unlike other so-called 'visual'
development environments which simply offer graphical construction of interfaces, VisualAge fosters
visual manipulation of object interactions and collaborations."
John Miller Crawford
VISUAL CAFÉ ENTERPRISE SUITE:
The Enterprise Suite supports distributed Java application development, debugging, and deployment of
server applications and servlets. Wizards for Server, Servant, and Client Adapter mask the complexities
of distributed communications, RMI, and CORBA. Single-View technology simplifies the development and
debugging of distributed applications. A central console provides a seamless view into multiple
processes running on different VMs, platforms, and operating systems. It supports NetDynamics, Netscape,
Novera, Persistence, and WebLogic application servers; OrbixWeb and VisiBroker ORBs; and Tuxedo and Oracle8.
"More than anything else Visual Café proves that there is no single IDE of choice in the
marketplace. If you want solidity and can live with being tied to a specific JDK, choose VisualAge;
if project scalability is your bag, look at JBuilder; but if a super fast compiler and flexible
environment is what you need, then Café may be the IDE for you."
JBuilder features JavaBeans component creation, a scalable database architecture, visual "Two-Way"
development tools, and the ability to produce 100% Pure Java, platform-independent applications,
applets, servlets, and JavaBeans. The product's open environment supports JDK 1.1.x, JDK 1.2, JFC/Swing
components, JavaBeans, Enterprise JavaBeans, CORBA, RMI, JDBC and all major corporate database servers.
"JBuilder is the current winner when it comes to developing large-scale Java projects. Principle
features in this regard are a powerful, customizable editor, cross-project libraries, and a
general philosophy of 'openness'."
SERVLET TOOLS, COMPONENTS, FRAMEWORKS
The com.oreilly.servlet package was written in conjunction with the book, Java Servlet Programming
(O'Reilly), and contains a set of useful utility classes for servlet developers. Included are classes
to help servlets parse parameters, handle multipart requests, generate multipart responses, negotiate
locales for internationalization, return files, manage socket connections, and act as RMI servers.
There's even a class to help applets communicate with servlets.
NEW ATLANTA COMMUNICATIONS
A Java-based Web application server with complete implementation of the Java Servlet API 2.0, Java Server
Pages (JSP), support for Microsoft IIS, Netscape FastTrack & Enterprise servers (UNIX & Windows),
and the Apache Web server (UNIX & Windows).
WEBMACRO SERVLET FRAMEWORK:
A free Java development package that allows users to keep HTML and presentational issues out of Java
servlet code, while providing Web designers with a simple template language capable of displaying
any Java object.
Profiling tool for Java VMs that shows how an application uses resources. Java programmers can easily
spot the code responsible for excessive memory allocations or inefficient CPU usage. It includes a
real-time memory profiler, object reference graph, CPU profiler, source code viewers, and ASCII/HTML
"OptimizeIt allows me to run and monitor my product on different platforms and configurations.
I can easily see how my code is performing on each platform by using OptimizeIt's Attach to Remote
COMPUWARE NUMEGA LAB
A visual thread and event analyzer that dramatically reduces the amount of time it takes to debug
difficult problems in multi-threaded Java applications and components.
KL GROUP INC
JProbe ServerSide Suite provides powerful performance profiling, memory
debugging, code coverage and thread analysis capabilities in one
conveniently integrated suite, designed for server-side Java
VISIBROKER FOR JAVA:
A complete CORBA 2.0 ORB environment for building, deploying, and managing distributed Java applications
that interoperate across multiple platforms. It includes Java ease-of-use, scalability, customization
for advanced development, secure IIOP, and monitoring and management tools.
"An easy-to-use, reliable ORB with relatively good performance. It's Caffeine tool (java2idl)
first allowed developers to specify an interface in Java and turn it into standard IDL."
BEA SYSTEMS, WEBXPRESS DIVISION
A pure-Java implementation of JDBC that supports servlets and dynamic HTML generation. Tengah/JDBC
includes features such as security, HTTP servlet support for server-side programming, name services,
and access control lists. Tengah/JDBC comes with one of WebLogic's industry-leading two-tier jdbcKona
drivers for Oracle, Sybase, Informix, or MS SQL Server.
JAVA DEVELOPMENT KIT:
The JDK-2 software adds new functionality in many areas including Java 2D, Accessibility, Drag-and-Drop,
Application Services, Extensions Framework, Collections, Input Methods, Version Identification, Weak
References, Java Interface Definition language (IDL), Java Virtual Machine Debugger Interface (JVMDI),
and Javadoc Doclets.
"The JDK has gone through many rigorous OOAD sessions, ensuring that the core, packages are
designed correctly. By using these, developers are picking up good techniques and habits and not
even realizing it! It's that feature that makes the JDK so important."
OBJECT INTERNATIONAL INC.
A pure-Java UML modeler that delivers simultaneous round-trip engineering. TJ Whiteboard features UML
class and package diagrams, multiframe HTML documentation generation, wall-chart printing, plus external
"Together/J has changed the way I develop Java systems. Thanks to its simultaneous design and
code synchronization, I use Together/J to ensure that the design of my Java code remains consistent,
principled and comprehensible."
INSTALLANYWHERE, STANDARD EDITION:
ZERO G SOFTWARE
Allows for creation of highly customized installers for multiple platforms. Advanced Designer mode
provides for a tailor-made product; its Project Wizard offers quick builds and the ability to set
the project's main class and classpath automatically.
XML PRODUCTIVITY KIT FOR JAVA:
Contains a variety of tools and protocols for enabling XML processing applications.
"My favorite choice when it comes to XML and Java combination. Quite easy to use, very powerful,
WEB AUTHORING & MANAGEMENT TOOLS
A visual tool for Web site design. It supports Dynamic HTML features for users of 4.0 browsers while
In addition to rollover effects, form validation, drag-and-drop, image swapping, and Shockwave controls,
Dreamweaver 1.2 now also includes new behaviors such as check browser, drag-
and-drop layers and pre-load images.
"I like DreamWeaver for [its] easy transition from visual editing to raw HTML tweaking and back
John Miller Crawford
A site-oriented visual Web-authoring application that combines automatic site building, professional
design, rich media, and data publishing features. Version 3.0 adds 150-plus features/enhancements.
"Very powerful. You get great results even if you are not an HTML expert. It can make a Java
developer look like he/she has a flare for graphics and page design."
LIVE SOFTWARE INC.
A server-side Java Web application deployment environment that extends your current Web server to support
Java Servlet functionality. JRun also has a built-in Web server.
"A Java servlet engine that is valuable not just as its own Web server with a servlet engine, but
because it can be plugged in to so many other standard Web servers, including Apache, Netscape Enterprise
Server, and Microsoft IIS."
SilverStream: SilverStream Software
Sapphire/Web: Bluestone Software Inc.
COMPILERS AND VIRTUAL MACHINES
High Performance Compiler for Java:
FastForward: Connect Software Inc.
dbANYWHERE Server: Symantec
Oracle Lite: Oracle Corporation
ObjectStore DBMS: Object Design
Versant ODBMS: Versant Object Technology
ObjectStore PSE for Java: Object Design Inc.
jdbcKona: BEA Systems
VisiChannel for JDBC: Visigenic
Cloudscape JBMS: Cloudscape Inc.
CASEtalk: Danish Object Company
DBTools.J: Rogue Wave Software Inc.
Remote AWT for Java: IBM alphaWorks
JClass Enterprise Suite: KL Group Inc.
ChartBlaster: Chart Works Inc.
StudioJ: Rogue Wave Software Inc.
INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENTS
VisualAge for Java Professional: IBM
Visual Café Professional Edition: Symantec Corp.
Visual Café Standard Edition : Symantec Corp.
2LKit for VJ++: JStyle
NetBeans Developer: NetBeans Inc.
SuperCede for Java Professional Edition:
Kalos Architect: Espial Group
Kawa: Tek-Tools Inc.
Parts for Java: ObjectShare
jtest!: ParaSoft Corporation
SockPerf: IBM alphaWorks
Distributed Application Tester: IBM alphaWorks
Plum Hall JVS: Plum Hall Europe Limited
Autodesk MapGuide Viewer Java Edition: Autodesk
iBus publish/subscribe Middleware: SoftWired Inc.
JGL - Generic Containers for Java: ObjectSpace Inc.
JClass Chart: KL Group Inc.
Kalos Espresso: Espial Group
MediaBeans: IBM alphaWorks
OrbixWeb: Iona Technologies
StudioJ: Rogue Wave Software Inc.
XML BeanMaker: IBM alphaWorks
Dynamic XML for Java: IBM alphaWorks
AssemblyLine Basic: InLine Software Corporation
Jikes Parser Generator: IBM alphaWorks
Zelix KlassMaster: Zelix Pty Ltd.
CodeWizard for Java: ParaSoft Corporation
Jshrink: Eastridge Technology
StructureBuilder: Tendril Software Inc.
WEB AUTHORING & MANAGEMENT TOOLS