There are two schools of thoughts about Java; there is one that says Java is one of the simplest and more powerful programming languages going around and at the other end of the spectrum are people who say it is a language hard to use and is quite intricate.
Whatever the school of thought you subscribe to, there is absolutely no doubt that you’ve got to get your Java coding right. DZone has a comprehensive list of common Java mistakes that developers usually end up making. One of the ways of ensuring you write richer and bug free Java code is by using the many tools that are at your disposal. Each of these tools addresses different developer concerns, but there is one common theme running through them and that is – they offer excellent support for coding and development.
A word of caution here – One of the many myths surrounding Java programming is that the availability of comprehensive IDEs and tools means you can afford not to have a comprehensive understanding of Java. But that’s not how it works. These tools make life simpler for you, only if you know your way around Java.
Now, let’s take a look at 15 such tools:
I know what you are going to say, “of course you need a JDK to get started with Java”; but the fact is there is nothing obvious in programming. If you plan on developing Java based applets and applications, your first need to get yourself a tool like JDK, which includes the necessary Java Complier, the Java Runtime Environment, and the Java APIs. It will help you get started with Java.
2. Eclipse IDE
Ask experienced Java developers about their favorite Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and quite a number of them will point to Eclipse. Eclipse provides much needed assistance for code completion, refactoring and syntax checking. It also offers something called the Java Development Tools project (JDT) that provides a range of tool plugin-ins to help develop all kinds of Java applications.
The real advantage of this IDE, however, is that it allows developers to combine language support, for e.g. it also offers a C/C++ and PHP IDE. This makes it a one stop resource for Java development.
This is another IDE that offers a comprehensive array of features such as converters, editors and code analyzers that help you come up with applications that implement the latest Java technologies. The range of tools is extensive and the people behind this IDE are making continuous improvements to it. You also get the benefit of static analysis tools that help you write bug free code.
This one calls itself the ‘most intelligent Java IDE’ going around. You can only know if this actually is the case if you use it, but there is no doubt that it does help developers come up with innovative Java solutions. It has features that help boost productivity such as ‘Smart Code Completion’ and ‘On-the-fly Code Analysis’; it also offers advanced support for web and mobile development and a whole lot more. So, try it out.
If you are looking for a free IDE that helps you build a reliable Service Oriented Architecture with Java, or Java Enterprise Edition applications, there is nothing better than JDeveloper. It supports the full development life cycle, which means you are assured of a Java solution you can justifiably be proud of.
This is a unit testing framework that helps developers write and run tests. But there is an essential difference between JUnit and similar frameworks available on the market. You can test one block of code at a time rather than waiting for the module to be completed before you run a test. You can actually ‘test and then code’, meaning you have very little doubt about the final functionality of an application.
7. Apache ANT™
With the ANT™, you get the benefit of working with a tool by the Apache Software Foundation. This one is an open source tool whose greatest advantage is its simplicity. One key aspect of programming that gets the developer’s goat is handling complex repetitive tasks. With ANT™, you can automate such tasks. This is just one of the many features this tool simplifies.
8. JRat (Java Runtime Analysis Toolkit)
If you want to measure the application’s performance, JRat is the analysis toolkit you must use. With this tool, you can identify potential problem areas that can impact application performance.
This is another tool from the Apache stable. It is a testing tool that will measure functional behavior and also the performance of your websites, databases, web services etc. The fact that it has an easy to understand GUI means you can easily build a test plan and debug the application quickly.
10. Apache Maven
We have mentioned Apache’s ANT™ earlier in the list, and Maven helps you do the same thing; but developers think it is a big step up the ladder compared to ANT™. As far as dependency management, build actions, debugging and collaboration is concerned, it is a few notches higher than ANT™. To put it simply, if you are using ANT™ you need to tell it exactly what to do; you need to mention the exact location of your source, assign the storage location of the resultant bytecode and how you want everything to be packaged in the JAR file.
Maven, on the other hand, simplifies these things for you.
If you want a tool that is a combination of everything that is good about the ANT™ and Maven, you will be very happy with this one. With Gradle you can code in Groovy, which is a huge point in its favor because you can code just about anything. The second huge advantage of this tool is that it supports the convention-over-configuration paradigm.
This tool provides Java and Groovy code coverage. With Clover, you can zero in on the code that might turn out to be the most problematic and make sure your testing focuses on that particular code. Result – a problem free application.
This one is a Java profiler that allows on-demand profiling during development or production; this means you can ensure your product meets the highest standards of quality. On-demand profiling means the profiled application can be run without incurring any overheads.
If you want to write tests with clean and simple API, which deliver clean verification errors, Mockito should be your drink of choice. Mockito is essentially a mock library that helps you create, verify and stub mocks – an essential aspect of Java development.
Java code has bugs? Who’re you going to deploy to find them? A good answer will be FindBugs™. It free, easy to run and really very good!
These 15 tools will definitely make life easy for you as a Java developer, but the whole idea behind using such tools is making an informed decision regarding their use. Choose a tool that suits your needs and requirements at a given point of time and it will deliver the returns you are looking for.