Forte fuels B2B apps

As the use of Java in enterprise settings continues to grow, developers need useful tools that can help them put the programming language to work powering business processes. The latest version of Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise Edition, Sun Microsystems Inc.’s IDE (integrated development environment) for enterprise projects, delivers a plethora of helpful features and functionality that will definitely meet the needs of corporate Java developers.

Most compelling in this latest release is a new Web services module, which leaps ahead of the functionality offered by rival IDEs such as Borland Software Corp.’s JBuilder and WebGain Inc.’s Visual Cafe. Also notable is support for transparent persistence, based on the forthcoming JDO (Java Data Objects) standard, which allows coders to more easily manage database interactions.

In our testing, we found Forte for Java’s new Web services tools and transparent persistence capabilities to be both powerful and straightforward to use, pushing Sun’s Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise Edition to the top of its class and earning our highest score of Deploy.

Additions to the Toolkit

Developers can use Forte for Java’s new Web services module to bind Java technologies with XML (Extensible Markup Language) via wizard-based interfaces. We found it very straightforward to build even complex Web services that enterprises might use to automate workflow and business processes. Forte for Java enabled us to easily assemble our Web services by defining nodes and then adding XML operations, Java archives, and documents to support them.

After constructing our Web services, we used Forte’s tools to generate the code needed to execute the services. Forte’s Web services module also includes support for deploying services to Web-based registries.

Support for transparent persistence in this Forte for Java release enables developers to access and manipulate data using familiar Java language constructs instead of database-specific methods such as SQL (Structured Query Language).

Using the tools the Forte IDE provides, we found it easy to capture some database schemas and then, using Forte’s wizard-based interfaces, to generate persistence-capable classes. If our experience with Forte for Java is any indication, developers who use JDO will save a good deal of time over other data access and interaction methods, including SQL.

Powerful and Productive

Forte for Java 3.0 also includes a bevy of other useful capabilities that will speed developers along. For example, wizards are included to help developers create EJBs (Enterprise JavaBeans) more quickly. We particularly liked Forte’s capability of performing iterative testing of EJB components. We were able to quickly create and deploy test applications to validate our EJB. The EJB testing capabilities should help reduce debugging cycles and increase the amount of testing developers can do during rapid-release time lines.

Also included with Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise Edition is the Forte ESP (Enterprise Service Presentation) Toolkit. The ESP Toolkit integrates with Web design tools such as Macromedia’s DreamWeaver to allow developers to map Java Server Pages to data sources, including XML data used in Web services.

Other development tasks are simplified, too. For example, Forte for Java makes it marvellously easy to create Javadoc documents or to build WAR (Web archive) files within the IDE.

Furthermore, similar to rival JBuilder, this release of Forte for Java makes it easier for developers to deploy applications and services to midtier application servers. We were able to use Forte for Java to deploy applications to several application servers, including iPlanet, without a hitch.

No Pet Peeves

One of our pet peeves with IDEs is that they’re usually slower to use than a text editor, compiler, and debugging tool from the command line. But Forte for Java proved quite snappy on all of our development machines regardless of platform – Solaris, Windows, or Linux. Programmers who normally prefer the command line will find Forte’s speed and functionality compelling.

The multitude of features and functionality in Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise Edition will also appeal to CTOs and business leaders. By allowing developers to rapidly create and deploy advanced application capabilities, including Web services, this IDE will help CTOs keep development costs down and business-critical development projects on schedule.


Forte for Java 3.0 Enterprise Edition

Business Case: This Java IDE will help corporate developers increase productivity while implementing advanced capabilities such as Web services.

Technology Case: New additions in this release, such as the Web services module and support for Java Data Objects, gives Forte an edge over its rivals.


+ Useful tools and well-organized interface

+ Easy deployment to the middle tier

+ Includes tools for creating and deploying Web services

+ Supports transparent persistence

+ Ample documentation and examples


– Not well-suited to inexperienced Java developers

Cost: US$1,995 Enterprise Edition; free download, Community Edition

Platform(s): Solaris, Linux, Windows

Company: Sun Microsystems;

Contributing Editor Maggie Biggs ( programs in multiple languages, including Java, and has more than 15 years of business and IT experience.