Java made easier for VB developers

Visual Basic developers transitioning to Java, and even veteran Java developers, struggle with building the Web browser interface for their Java applications, contends Eric von der Heyden, managing director at Innoopract.

Besides raising the frustration level as Java developers code Java Script, HTML and the other languages associated with Web interfaces, it can be a time-consuming and costly part of the project, he said.

In the spirit of others seeking to provide "gentler Java," Innoopract, a German software vendor moving into the U.S. market, developed a World Wide Web Windowing Toolkit (W4T) Eclipse Plug-In that provides a visual method for Java developers to create Web user interfaces to their applications.

"We've developed a tool that lets people visually develop the user interface through a point-and-click process," von der Heyden said. "And they can do that with our underlying widget component library that encapsulates all those things the experienced Java developer or new Java developer don't necessarily want to spend a lot of time messing around with, and that's all the presentation languages."

Innoopract is a member of the Eclipse community. Eclipse provides the foundation for the visual tool that is designed to help Visual Basic developers who are being asked by their companies to transition to Java for Web application development, said Innoopract's founder and president Jochen Krause.

"We provide them with a method of developing that they know from Visual Basic," he said. "And this is visual development. They have multiple pallets with widgets. They have properties. They have events. They have a panel where they can just point and click and insert things, and then they can click on them and see the properties and change the properties. And everything is what-you-see-is-what-you-get. This helps these developers to get started."

The visual tool, which can be seen in action in a short video on the Innoopract Web site,, requires only a minimum of Java coding. W4T makes use of a widget library that Innoopract developed.

"The widgets we are using are, from the developer's standpoint, just a widget library and it's programmed fully in Java so you have just panels, buttons, menu bars and previews," explained Krause. "You just click these things together on a form. This makes more sense than Visual Basic because it relies on objection orientation and the concept of object orientation, so you can have the composition pattern -- like creating your own small components. You can use these building blocks to make a bigger application."

He said the W4T Eclipse Plug-In is available immediately. A trial version can be downloaded for free at the Innoopract Web site. Commercial developer and runtime licenses are available for purchase.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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