DevX Home    Today's Headlines   Articles Archive   Skill Building   Tip Bank   Sourcebank   Forums   
IBM Rational Tools and Learning Showcase
1. IBM Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software V6.0
2. IBM Rational Performance Tester V6.1
3. IBM Rational Software Architect V6.0
4. IBM Rational Software Modeler V6.0
5. IBM Rational Functional Tester V6.1
IBM Rational Tools and Learning Update

More Newsletters
Privacy Statement
 Print Print
Eclipse the Competition with IBM Rational Tools
IBM created Eclipse years ago to establish a common tools platform for Java developers, and while it's now the industry's leading open source IDE, it does have limitations. See how IBM Rational tools round out the picture. 

It's a tough world out there. Being a Java developer is no longer a guaranteed ticket to techie stardom. Skills that used to be uncommon are now commonplace. How can this be?

Well, the answer boils down to tools. When Java first came about, developers had to leap over tall buildings just to create a simple application. Now that tools have progressed, almost any reasonably competent Java developer can experience a modicum of success.

What differentiates Java developers today from one another is productivity. In this new world the most productive Java developers are those earmarked for greatness. The rest are, how should we say, not. While the Eclipse platform has successfully brought Java development to the masses, aspiring stars should seriously consider a more productive alternative.

For more information on Rational Application Developer, visit IBM's RAD site.

IBM Rational tools fill this need. The IBM Rational Software Development Platform is based on the solid foundation Eclipse provides (after all, IBM did create Eclipse), and layers on a raft of productivity-enhancing features that quickly turn your efforts into results.

Feature Comparison
The fact is, Eclipse is now the industry's leading Java IDE. IBM created Eclipse years ago to establish a common tools platform for Java developers. Eclipse provides standard user-navigation and a common workbench that integrates tools from an end-user's point of view—Eclipse's "plug-in" architecture allows disparate tools to be integrated more easily.

While Eclipse is truly one of the greatest development tool innovations in recent memory, it has limitations. For instance:

  • Eclipse is supported by a community of volunteer developers. IBM Rational tools are backed by the resources of IBM and offer standard channels for training, support, and upgrades.
  • Eclipse is a source-level tool focused on the developer role. IBM Rational tools, such as IBM Rational Application Developer and IBM Rational Software Architect, empower developers with the productivity benefits of visual construction and model-driven development.
  • Eclipse provides a framework for tool integration, not a set of integrated tools. The IBM Rational Software Development Platform delivers a set of seamlessly integrated applications that span the software development lifecycle.

Visualize Productivity
Although Eclipse is an eminently useful tool, IBM Rational is simply one step better to maximize the productivity of any level of Java developer. While IBM Rational Application Developer's list of differentiating features goes on for pages, we only have space to cover a handful of the most crucial distinctions.

Most importantly, IBM Rational Application Developer is a visual programming tool. Sure, you could write tons of code yourself, but why bother when wizards can do it for you? Yes, point-and-click enterprise Java development is now a reality. With IBM Rational Application Developer, you visually create the site hierarchy, and then drag-and-drop elements onto the page, including HTML, JSF and Struts elements, JSP tags, and calls to JavaBeans.

Even for complex features, such as JSF, no coding is required. Likewise, for the somewhat perplexing Struts framework, IBM Rational Application Developer lets you visually map and construct Model-View-Controller Web applications with ease. Compare this to Eclipse, where you have to be the wizard.

Push-Button Portals
Enterprise portals are just plain useful. That's why Java developers are frequently asked to build them. Now, if you're using Eclipse on its own, break out JSR 168 (the industry standard specification for portlet aggregation, personalization, presentation, and security) and start coding. IBM Rational Application Developer users, on the other hand, have an entirely different experience.

IBM Rational Application Developer includes visual portal development tools and a unit test environment so you can build and test individual portlets and entire portal applications. New portlets are visually created using wizards which generate portlets that comply with the IBM Portlet API, and those that comply with JSR 168. And with IBM Rational Application Developer's Portal Designer, you can visually create and edit portal applications, and visually edit the themes and skins that control their appearance.

Rapid Deployment
It's easy enough to write code in Eclipse; the question is, how do you efficiently test and deploy it? IBM Rational Application Developer offers an integrated unit test environment that supports testing and debugging local and server-side code on a variety of application servers. You can create and configure server instances using wizards, step-through applications, and set breakpoints, and even modify the code under debug without restarting the unit test server.

When it's time for deployment, you'll be happy to be an IBM Rational Application Developer user. Eclipse users have to manually assemble Java archive (JAR) and WAR files into an EAR file for deployment. IBM Rational Application Developer saves time by automating EAR assembly and generation of deployment descriptors.

Model Citizen
The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is gaining serious traction with Java developers. IBM Rational Application Developer enables you to graphically visualize and edit J2EE code and data objects using industry-standard UML notation. This helps developers, even those unfamiliar with UML, better understand and manage complex code.

IBM Rational Application Developer also provides powerful visual editors so you can add UML class diagrams directly into a Java or EJB project that automatically generate the corresponding code. You can subsequently edit that code directly or from within the UML class diagrams. And since the visualization is derived dynamically, it is always synchronized with the underlying code and you can re-factor code by moving objects in the class diagram.

If you're really into modeling, IBM Rational Software Architect is the tool for you. It includes all the features of IBM Rational Application Developer, plus comprehensive support for modeling and model-driven development, focusing on service-oriented architecture, patterns-based development, Model Driven Architecture, and static architectural analysis.

Time to Win
Although every developer believes that free is good, the wise among us know the ultimate measure of a tool is the productivity it offers. Time is our most precious commodity and IBM Rational tools are imbued with qualities that make the most of every working minute.

Page 1 of 1
Allan McNaughton, a veteran developer and long-time writer, is the principal at Technical Insight LLC, a firm specializing in the composition of high-technology white papers.