Sun's Project Rave draws raves

Java Studio Creator, the purported easy-to-use Java development tool due from Sun Microsystems this summer, drew raves from some early users Wednesday morning, albeit with reservations about the availability of components.

During a conference call set up by Sun, three users discussed their experiences with the tool, which also has been referred to as "Project Rave."

"The complexity of Java and building Web-based applications needed to be hidden. We need to hide the complexity for these Cobol programs, and that's why we're very excited about (Java Studio Creator)," said Hugues Delannoy, executive vice president at Prima Solutions, a European-based developer of middleware for insurance applications. The company has dealt primarily with Cobol programmers who built 3270 user interfaces, but is moving to Java.

Insurance companies face issues of moving Cobol programmers to new languages, Delannoy said. With Java Studio Creator, Prima hopes to reduce by 50 percent the time it takes for programmers to be effective in Java, he said.

The product is useful in quickly assembling Web sites, said Dick Wall, system architect at NewEnergy Associates, a Siemens Westinghouse Power subsidiary specializing in integrated business applications. A developer can proceed from Web page to Web page, he said.

"The fact that you can get that kind of ground covered in half an hour is really impressive," Wall said. Lacking in Java Studio Creator, though, are sufficient grid components as well as other components, he said.

Sun is working with a number of component vendors to have supplementary components available for use with Java Studio Creator, said Jim Inscore, Sun group product marketing manager for Corporate Developer Tools. "We're hoping to have, over time, a full suite of components that provide the broad range of depth and breadth of functionality beyond what we deliver with Java Studio Creator," Inscore said.

Java Studio Creator will have its work cut out in the arena of easy-to-use Java development tools. Companies such as Oracle, with JDeveloper, and BEA Systems, with Workshop, are pitching their products in this category. Wall said he found Java Studio Creator easier to work with than JDeveloper, which he said requires more technical knowledge and lacks the drag-and-drop capabilities of Java Studio Creator. JDeveloper lacks the ease use of Microsoft's Visual Basic, which is what Java Studio Creator brings to the equation, he said.

JDdeveloper "is a very capable and very flexible way of building complicated Web applications and Swing applications," said Wall. "It is very good at doing those things but ... it doesn't quite match the ease of use our Visual Basic developers are looking for in either of those areas," he said.

"We're looking at Rave (Java Studio Creator) as a replacement for VB6 pretty soon, actually," Wall said.

Software component provider ILOG believes tools technologies such as JavaServer Faces, a user interface technology, and Java Studio Creator will provide basic building blocks for components development, said Julian Payne, senior director of visualization at ILOG.

ILOG customers want to do more reporting and monitoring on the Web using advanced graphics, which requires a mixture of HTML, JavaScript, and Java. JSF and Java Studio Creator will provide a boost in this area, Payne said.

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