Sun’s latest push to make Java a more attractive platform for smaller Web developers came in the form of Java Studio Creator, first released in the middle of this year. Sun last week announced a free update to the product that would now support Mac OS X, although from what I can tell this has actually been out since August.
Bogus press releases aside, Studio Creator came from criticism that there were no easy-to-use tools for putting together Java Web applications in a hurry without getting up to your elbows in code, the way you can throw together an ASP.NET application in Visual Studio .NET.
Java Studio Creator takes full advantage of the latest standard for designing Java Web application interfaces: JavaServer Faces. With JavaServer Faces, you no longer have to build your Web application interfaces out of HTML form tags, but you can instead use a collection of more advanced components that generate the HTML code for you. These components provide facilities for validating user input and maintaining the contents and selections in a form for a particular user across requests.
Developing a Java Web application in Studio Creator becomes a very quick-and-dirty process, which is often just what you need. Set up a database connection and a couple of queries, drag a few interface components onto a blank page, tweak their properties, and then double-click to write Java code that handles events like button pushes and menu selections.
Java Studio Creator is actually built on top of the open source development environment NetBeans, which many people still choose for doing Java development, despite newer contenders like IntelliJ IDEA gaining popularity.
I first saw Java Studio Creator demonstrated under the name “Project Rave” at last year’s JavaOne conference, where it was used to quickly assemble and deploy an application for use on mobile phones. It looks like that functionality, along with support for developing desktop Java applications, was shelved in favour of making a solid, focused tool for rapid Web application development.
PC Magazine has a quick, but pretty decent review of the latest release. Surprisingly, the update didn’t garner much coverage on the major Java websites. I suppose people who already use Java for Web development are a bit beyond a tool like this. Nevertheless, a solid review of the initial release can be found at Software Reality.
Java Studio Creator is free to use for 30 days, after which you must pay $99 for the software, which also gets you a year’s membership to the Sun Developer Network.