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Favorite Java Tools

The Java tools that I use day in and day out are Sun's SDK, JCreator, and Jacobe, with occasional help from Together. Following are my comments on these tools plus others I have reviewed before settling on what to use.


Sun's SDK
The free tools from Sun that almost everyone uses: compiler, byte code interpreter, documentation tools, and so on.

Development Environments

This is my favorite development environment. It includes the features I want and doesn't have a lot of baggage that I don't need. It's also fast and light-weight compared to many of the alternatives. The biggest disadvantages are a Windows-only implementation and a rather primitive debugger.
There is a free version that lacks code completion. The “pro” version is quite inexpensive.
Eclipse is an open source development environment. It's not Java-specific and it's another one of those huge tools meant for professional programmers, not beginners. But it's free and does lots.
BlueJ is at the other end of the spectrum. It was explicitly developed for beginning Java programmers. It’s most notable feature is a “workbench” where users can instantiate an object directly and then invoke it’s methods to see the object's behavior. This is a great pedagogical aid. However, we chose a different route (interesting provided classes) to achieve the same pedagogical end, so we don't use the tool. It also includes some rudimentary class diagramming tools.
JPad Pro
JPad Pro is essentially a scriptable text editor that has extensions to work with Java. It's very customizable. Lots of flexibility, but I think it's too complex for the benefits it actually delivers.
TextPad is another text editor that a number of academics have recommended to me. Simple support for compiling Java programs, but seems to me to be too stripped down.

Code Formatting

Jacobe is a Java code beautifier. It nicely indents code that has become mangled during the development process. The settings file that I use is here; installation instructions for use with JCreator are here.

Contact: bwbecker@learningwithrobots.com.