Java Studio Creator: An IDE to Create Web Applications
Dana Nourie , April 2004
Web applications are the easiest, fastest way to deliver data to desktops. The fundamental driver for corporate application development is access to existing data and information infrastructures with applications created through simple tools that allow rapid development and rapid deployment.
Sun Java Studio Creator (formerly known as Project RAVE) delivers these benefits and helps you to create two-tier web applications that conform to the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) BluePrints. In addition, Sun Java Studio Creator simplifies and streamlines access to databases and web services from behind dynamic HTML user interfaces as easy as drag and drop.
With this easy-to use development environment, you can focus on quickly designing user interfaces and coding business logic. Creator is a full-fledged Java development environment that simplifies coding with a rapid visual designer, a smart code editor, synchronized editing, source code management, and easy deployment features.
Figure 1: Sun Java Studio Creator
Creator was created with Java technologies, on top of NetBeans technology, providing an ease-of-development focus for delivering web applications. These technologies include:
- JavaServer Faces (JSF) for rapid visual graphical user interface development and a simplified Java coding model.
- JDBC Rowsets for simplified access to existing databases through a visual query builder.
- Java APIs for XML Web Services that empower visual drag and drop web services development with automatic parsing of WSDL files and generation of SOAP method stubs.
In addition, you can incorporate the following technologies into your applications:
You do not need an comprehensive understanding of the above technologies to create applications using Creator. In fact, that is the beauty of this tool. It is aimed at those of you who are just learning Java technologies, are corporate developers who rely on development tools and don't have heavy coding experience, or have little time for coding from scratch and need to create applications quickly.
However, if you do want to know more about the individual Java technologies available to you, the above list items are linked to more information.
Features and Benefits
Sun Java Studio Creator is a rapid application development environment that lets you create powerful standards-based Java applications while reducing complexity and deployment times.
Frameworks like JavaServer Faces (JSF) offer a proven way to reduce complexity and to simplify development of visual multi-tier applications through developer tools. Sun Java Studio Creator speeds Java coding behind the user interface by providing well-defined event handler methods that enable you to incorporate business logic, with minimal focus on coding details and complexities.
Drag-and-Drop Visual Components
You begin working in Sun Java Studio Creator like many other applications, by starting a new project. A project defines the content for your application or a single application module. In addition, you can use project templates to get you started.
To see the details of your project, a navigation tool called Portfolio Navigator provides an organized view of the objects in a view, as well as commands for managing a project. The Creator IDE generates a new portfolio each time you create a new project. Alternatively, you can switch to the Filesystem view, which reflects the physical file system of the project on disk.
When you begin a new project, there aren't objects in your project to view. You need to create those, either by coding manually, or through Creator's drag and drop features.
Figure 2: Palette
A simple drag-and-drop user interface design ensures fast refinement from prototype to completed application. In addition to creating and using visual components like text fields and buttons, you can also assign database information to components through drag-and-drop.
When you open the application and start a new project, you are presented with an empty Canvas, a visual editor. The Canvas provides the work area for laying out the user interface. You can drag and drop graphic elements and user interface components onto the Canvas to visually build applications quickly and intuitively. In addition, you can switch views from visual to working with code directly. Synchronized editing ensures that changes made to objects in any view are reflected in the canvas.
The Palette is a dockable, sliding window designed to provide access to graphical user interface components, such as custom graphics, HTML elements, JSP web forms, Java language source code snippets, and components packaged in Java Archive (JAR), Web Archive (WAR) or Enterprise Archive (EAR) files. Simply drag and drop graphic elements and user interface components from the Palette onto the Canvas.
Each component has properties that you can easily edit in the Property Sheets, which are available for standard components and for custom components. Typical properties might include text size and styles, color, or the size of a component.
Component size and placement can be adjusted using the mouse or keyboard, or through Property sheets. Double-clicking on any UI Component switches editing mode to code view, with the text editor jumping directly to the default event handler for the component. If a visual component doesn't already have a default event handler, one is inserted at the bottom of the code view file when the Component is double-clicked.
For those of you who already know the Java programming language and prefer to hand code, or for those who want to see what's happening behind the scenes, Sun Java Studio Creator provides a Code Editor that supports the range of coding required for hand-assembly of web-based applications: HTML pages, JSP pages, JSP code-behind scripts/pages, XML structured documents, and source code files. You can move between development modes, from visual to the Code Editor, with ease.
The Code Editor supports code completion, including access to JavaDoc entries for highlighted methods in Java source code. Other interactive features include syntax coloration, error-detection, and naming help for classes, methods, and so on.
Figure 3: Code
The Code Editor automatically formats code based on the file type. Menu commands and keystroke combinations allow you to select and deselect automatic tabbed formatting.
Syntax colorization and formatting for Java, JSP, HTML, and XML helps you keep coding issues straight. Syntax errors, unknown classes and variables, and compilation errors are identified visually in the editor immediately after they are typed in.
You can drag your frequently-used code clips from the Palette, and drop them onto the code editor for quicker, more error-free coding of common behaviors.
The Code Editor also makes it easy to navigate source code files, by providing drop down lists for selecting objects on a page and for selecting the methods and event handlers of a selected object. Selecting a method or event handler sends the cursor to the appropriate section of the source code.
To help you focus on high-level coding issues, the editor supports Code Folding, with visual indicators on the left side of code that are visible and clickable to expand folded code.
Drag-and-Drop Database and Web Services Objects
All Visual UI Components provided are data aware, meaning that database objects can be dragged onto a Canvas and are automatically interpreted, and display corresponding database schema information.
Bundled database drivers enable Sun Java Studio Creator to automatically discover Pointbase, Oracle, MySQL, SQLServer, and Access databases, and create connections, easily connecting applications to market leading servers without manual steps. Other database drivers can be added and used to automatically discover additional new databases from vendors such as Sybase and Cloudscape.
Database connections can also be added manually, allowing you to point at new databases and create connections.
The Server Navigator provides access to a variety of data sources and services, including databases, servers, and web services. Sun Java Studio Creator intelligently discovers local servers so you don't have to manually configure them. Once discovered, database connections can be dragged and dropped onto an application. The Server Navigator can be pointed at any accessible server to discover new connections to both local and remote databases.
Database connections also can be dropped onto a UI component, and are automatically added to the services tray at the bottom of the Canvas as JDBC RowSets. You can modify RowSets through the SQL Query Editor (more on this later). Synchronized editing ensures that database query changes in these data-aware UI components are reflected properly in the component's Property Sheet.
DropDownLists update to display the key column of any database table or query dropped onto them, and DataGrid components update to display all column names in any tables they receive, with dummy data automatically inserted to reflect the data type of each column.
Creator's powerful SQL Query Editor enables you to build database queries rapidly and visually. Tables can be added or deleted from a query by dragging and dropping them onto this editor. Query features like joins can be automatically generated based on common columns between tables. Columns can be added to and deleted from a query by simple clicking. The SQL Query statement formed can also be edited manually with synchronized editing, ensuring that changes in the text of the SQL statement automatically update selections in the visual components of the Query Editor.
For web services, the Server Navigator provides automatic access to WSDL files located at URLs, in local files, or in UDDI registries. The Navigator also allows you to add web services by hand, enabling web services consumption to be managed just like any other service. Web services in the Server Navigator can also be dragged and dropped onto applications.
Once a web service is discovered in the server explorer, test clients can be generated automatically, providing a simple mechanism enabling you to test connected web services to ensure they are working properly.
Figure 4: Server Navigator
The Code Editor provides debugging support by allowing clickable setting of break points and watches, with breakpoints/watches indicated by icons and highlighting the code. You can also automatically turn source files into template files.
In addition, Sun Java Studio Creator provides Debug from the main menu.
Figure 5: Debugger
Help at Your Fingertips
Though Sun Java Studio Creator is intuitive and easy to use, it provides Help just a menu away. In addition to dynamic help and documentation regarding various features of this tool, the Help menu also provides easy access the Java Studio Creator Developer Portal, a web site dedicated to this product, where you can discover more documentation, FAQs, tutorials, a user's forum, and more. The Help menu also provides easy access to the log file and to report bugs.
Figure 6: Help
Bookmarks provide links to various Sun sites that may be of help and interest to you. The More Information item provides links to additional information on the many Java technologies you can use within Sun Java Studio Creator.
Getting Started on Your Web Application
When you download Sun Java Studio Creator, you can also download tutorials and documentation to get you up and running. Some of the tutorials that may be helpful to you are:
- Creating Web Applications that Access Databases
- Creating Web Applications that Access Web Services
- Creating Page Flow in Sun Java Studio Creator
The following hardware and software are required for the Early Access release of Java Studio Creator.
|Component||Windows Platform||Solaris Platform||Linux Platform|
|CPU||Intel Pentium 4 (or equivalent) at 1 Ghz processing speed.||UltraSPARC® III at 750 MHz processing speed.||Intel Pentium 4 (or equivalent) at 1 Ghz processing speed.|
|RAM||512 Mbytes.||1 Gbyte.||512 Mbytes.|
|Disk Space||405 Mbytes (an additional 250 MB required for installation).||455 Mbytes (an additional 250 MB required for installation).||455 Mbytes (an additional 250 MB required for installation).|
Windows 2000 Professional Edition (Service Pack 4).
Windows XP Professional and Home Editions (Service Pack 1a).
|Solaris 9 Operating System (OS) update 6 (SPARC® platform).||
Java Desktop System - 2003.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 2.1.
|Browser Support Priorities||
Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack 2 (Windows 2000)
Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1 (Windows XP)
|Netscape 7||Mozilla 1.4 or later|
Note: The Sun Java System Application Server Platform Edition 8 and the PointBase 4.8 Restricted Edition are bundled and installed with the product.