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JBuilder puts price on Java code re-use

Play with others' modules

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Code re-use through Application Factories is the big-ticket item that CodeGear touts in the JBuilder 2008 Java development environment, released today.

But the ability to use Application Factories depends on how much you're willing to pay for JBuilder, and the concept of re-use is somewhat limitated.

Application Factories span tools and capabilities contained in JBuilder 2008 to search for and consume pieces of code called modules. Modules are built using Java and are described using XML and JavaScript metadata.

Contrary to the way CodeGear makes it sound, modules are not stored in some kind of SOA-like meta repository in the sky, but inside each copy of JBuilder 2008. Developers - you or your colleagues - search for modules for the application under development, inside your copy of JBuilder 2008.

According to CodeGear, a copy of the original module is kept in your version of JBuilder 2008, while a version-control system keeps track of what's been used.

JBuilder 2008 owes more to template-based development than the idea of re-use, where code is pulled in from existing applications and systems - as under composite applications.

As we pointed out last year, re-use goes only so far: once you've punched the JBuilder 2008 Create Application button you can't re-re-use that particular copy of the module. That hasn't changed, and you must return to the original for more - making it more like a template based approach to development.

Out of the box, JBuilder ships with up to five modules: a data-aware web application based on open source Java project framework AppFuse, ecommerce modules that use the Apache Open for Business Project, and the Java Petstore and Struts bookstrore implementation. CodeGear hopes an ecosystem will spring up around Application Factories, with modules built by ISVs and Sis.

Turbo not charged

The analysts are buying in. But so far, CodeGear is alone in pushing its idea of Application Factories.

Re-use doesn't come cheap and Application Factories are not supplied with the free edition of JBuilder 2008 - JBuilder 2008 Turbo. The ability to build, search and consume Application Factories comes with JBuilder Enterprise, priced $1,499 for a new user and $750 to upgrade.

Turbo gives you the basics - the ability to create and deploy software - while Enterprise Edition also features full support for UML modeling and code archeology. Between the two is the Professional Edition, which adds expanded support for Java Enterprise Edition 5.0 and web services, code profiling and performance tuning tools, and basic UML modeling.

Also featured in Professional Edition is a Swing graphical user interface designer. According to CodeGear, JBuilder 2008 is the first commercial IDE (integrated development environment) for Java to feature Instantiations' Swing Designer GUI building tool, as standard. Professional Edition is priced at $499 for new users and $250 to upgrade.

Other features in JBuilder 2008, which is built on Eclipse 3.3 and the Eclipse Web Tools Platform 2.0, include thread debugging and request analyzer, code archeology, code metrics and audits. The IDE runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Mac OS X 10.4 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.0.®

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