Eclipse touts Web, J2EE development in tools release

Bolstering development of Web and enterprise J2EE applications in the open source arena, the Eclipse Foundation is set to release Version 1.0 of its Eclipse Web Tools Platform.

Version 1.0 features the official APIs for the platform, which had been available in previous incarnations with provisional APIs. "We're declaring ourselves ready as a platform for commercial adoption," said Tim Wagner, a project lead for the Web Tools Platform and senior manager on the BEA Systems Workshop team.

Web Tools Platform 1.0 will serve as precursor to a planned release of several Eclipse technologies simultaneously next June, via a bundle now dubbed "Callisto."

A top-level project at Eclipse, Eclipse Web Tools Platform features editors for Java and associated technologies. J2EE 1.4 is supported on the platform, which plugs in to the Eclipse open source IDE.

Editors are included for JavaServer Pages, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, and XSD (XML Schema Definition). Wizards are included for generating Enterprise JavaBeans, session beans, and message beans. Code is generated automatically.

Vendors can use Web Tools Platform 1.0 as a base offering on which to add value for commercial purposes. BEA plans to implement the Web Tools Platform in its BEA Workshop development platform and equip it with functionality such as facilities for using for the Apache Beehive programming model and extended support for the BEA WebLogic Server application server.

The Web Services Explorer tool featured in Web Tools Platform 1.0 is a browser-based application allowing for discovery and invocation of Web services from within the platform. "It allows you to, for example, go out to discover a WSDL or Web service that's available on the Web and begin interacting with it directly," Wagner said. An example could be an Amazon Web service geared toward the Amazon product catalog; users would not have to write any code to get to the Web service.

Also featured are Java and WSDL code generation wizards that generate the portion of an application that accesses the Web service. Version 1.0 also has tools to configure and monitor servers and support debugging based on Java Specification Request 45.

The Web Tools Platform benefits both Eclipse and BEA, said Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Current Analysis. "It's definitely good news for BEA because while Workshop was a good tool, they need to put it on a standards basis. People are moving to Eclipse, and they needed to move with it," Willett said.

Eclipse gets enhanced functionality via the Web tools project, said Willett. "A Web development tool is in pretty high demand," and is something Eclipse needs, Willett said.

Web Tools Platform 1.0 features no direct support for Microsoft's .Net platform, although developers could use the tools within the platform to develop .Net support, Wagner said.

Callisto, to be officially known as Eclipse Platform 3.2, will feature a follow-up release of Web Tools Platform that features J2EE 1.5 tooling, including support for Java annotations, which allows for embedding of comments directly into code.

Other Eclipse offerings to be featured in Callisto include tools from the Data Tools Platform, Test & Performance Tools Platform, and Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools projects. The Eclipse IDE will be included as well.

The consolidated release of Eclipse technology is driven by efficiency. Users get all the technologies at once, and they will work together. "It will end the discovery problem" pertaining to Eclipse technologies by providing multiple offerings in one download, Wagner said. Commercial companies will be able to build products on top of Callisto.

Callisto is a natural evolution of the Eclipse platform, Willett said. "They're getting a lot more granular in terms of what Eclipse covers," he said.

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