The Sun J2EE Product Portfolio includes Forte, a modular and extensible Java-based IDE that pre-dates both Sun J2EE and .NET. Developers who prefer other IDEs for Java development are free to use WebGain’s Visual Café, IBM’s VisualAge for Java, Borland’s JBuilder, and more. Numerous 3rd party tools and open source-code products are available.
Microsoft has always been a strong tools vendor, and that has not changed. As part of its launch of .NET, Microsoft released a beta version of the Visual Studio.NET integrated development environment. Visual Studio.NET supports all languages supported by earlier releases of Visual Studio - with the notable exception of Java. In its place, the IDE supports C#, Microsoft’s new object-oriented programming language, which bears a remarkable resemblance to Java. Visual Studio.NET has some interesting productivity features including Web Forms, a web-based version of Win Forms, .NET’s GUI component set. Visual Studio.NET enables developers to take advantage of .NET’s support for cross-language inheritance.
Our conclusion is that Microsoft has the clear win when it comes to tools. While the functionality of the toolset provided by J2EE community as a whole supercedes the functionality of the tools provided by Microsoft, these tools are not 100% interoperable, because they do not originate from a single vendor. Much more low-level hacking is required to achieve business goals when working with a mixed toolkit, and no single tool is the clear choice, nor does any single tool compare with what Microsoft offers in Visual Studio.NET. Microsoft's single-vendor integration, the ease-of-use, and the super-cool wizards are awesome to have when building web services.