Eclipse touts Web and J2EE development in tools release

Looking to bolster the development of Web and enterprise J2EE applications in the open-source arena, the Eclipse Foundation has released Version 1.0 of its Eclipse Web Tools Platform (WTP).

Version 1.0 features the official APIs for the platform, which had been available in previous incarnations with provisional APIs.

Based in Ottawa, Eclipse is an international, non-profit, open source industry group that aims to provide a vendor-neutral open development platform and application frameworks for building software. Industry members include Hewlett Packard, SAP, IBM and Borland, a WTP project lead and senior manager on the BEA Systems Workshop team.

WTP 1.0 will serve as precursor to the planned release of several Eclipse technologies simultaneously next June, via a bundle now dubbed “Callisto.”

A top-level project at Eclipse, WTP features editors for Java and associated technologies. J2EE 1.4 is supported on the platform, which plugs into the Eclipse open source integrated development environment (IDE).

Editors are included for JavaServer Pages, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, and XSD (XML Schema Definition). Wizards are included for generating Enterprise JavaBeans, session beans and message beans. Code is generated automatically.

Vendors can use WTP as a base offering on which to add value for commercial purposes. BEA plans to implement the Web Tools Platform in its BEA Workshop development platform and equip it with functionality such as facilities for using the Apache Beehive programming model and extended support for the BEA WebLogic Server application server.

The Web Services Explorer tool featured in WTP is a browser-based application allowing for discovery and invocation of Web services from within the platform.

“It allows you to, for example, go out to discover a WSDL or Web service that’s available on the Web and begin interacting with it directly,” said Wagner.

An example could be an Amazon Web service geared toward the Amazon product catalogue; users would not have to write any code to get to the Web service.

Also featured are Java and WSDL code generation wizards that generate the portion of an application that accesses the Web service. Version 1.0 also has tools to configure and monitor servers and support debugging based on Java Specification Request 45.

WTP features no direct support for Microsoft’s .Net platform, although developers could use the tools within the platform to develop .Net support, Wagner said.

Shawn Willett, principal analyst at Washington-based research firm Current Analysis, said the release of WTP benefits both Eclipse and BEA.

“It’s definitely good news for BEA because while Workshop was a good tool, they need to put it on a standards basis,” said Willett. “People are moving to Eclipse, and they needed to move with it.”

Eclipse gets enhanced functionality via the Web tools project, added Willett, saying a Web development tool is in high demand and is something Eclipse needs.

Callisto, to be officially known as Eclipse Platform 3.2, will feature a follow-up release of WTP that features J2EE 1.5 tooling, including support for Java annotations, which allows for embedding of comments directly into code.

Other Eclipse offerings to be featured in Callisto include tools from the Data Tools Platform, Test & Performance Tools Platform, and Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools projects. The Eclipse IDE will be included as well.

Willet said Callisto will be a natural evolution of the Eclipse platform. “They’re getting a lot more granular in terms of what Eclipse covers,” he said.

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