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JBuilder 3: Building Java Apps Under Linux - page 5

Freely Available: JBuilder 3 Foundation for Linux

  • February 10, 2000
  • By Eric Foster-Johnson

Built-in editors are typical in integrated development environments. As you'd expect, JBuilder's editor highlights elements of Java syntax using different colors (which are configurable). The editor, based on the Swing text package, appeared serviceable. The speed was OK on my system, but some tasks, like opening and closing files, seemed to take a while to show up on the screen. For example, when I close a file, there's a noticeable delay before the previous file appears in the buffer.

The main benefits lie not so much in the editor itself, but in its connections to other parts of JBuilder. You can select a method, class, or other symbol in the code, press the rightmost mouse button and select Browse Symbol from the menu and you instantly see the code for the method in question. This makes it really easy to trace through your source code. JB even includes the source code to Java, so you can also browse into symbols defined in the Java API, such as the Swing classes or utility classes like String.

In addition to text editing, JBuilder includes what Borland calls CodeInsight, basically online help while editing. With CodeInsight, you can call up a list of accessible data members and methods for any highlighted item with Ctrl-h or Ctrl-Space. Also, Ctrl-Alt-Space or Ctrl-Alt-h calls up a list of classes compiled in JBuilder. Simply pressing the Enter key inserts the class name into the text editor. This is real handy when dealing with long class names. Other CodeInsight features include coding templates.

This integrated help and API documentation is more than enough to convince me to start using JBuilder. I'm constantly calling up the Java API documentation over the Internet.

By default, the editor appears at first when you launch JBuilder. But, you can click on the tabs beneath the text editor to call up modules. Click on Design, for example, to call up the visual user interface builder.

In design mode, you can select user interface components, such as buttons and label, from a palette. The available components use the Swing toolkit, standard with JDK 1.2 and higher. You can also integrate Java Beans into the palette, should you use other components.

Some visual design tools (Microsoft's tools come to mind) allow you to literally draw your buttons and widgets on the screen and then place the real widgets at exactly the location you clicked on. You may think this is great, as it allows for a great deal of control over widget placement, but once you start moving to other systems, you get into trouble.

If that other system doesn't use the same fonts as yours, all of a sudden your text may "bleed" out of the nicely placed widgets. If you create international versions of your software, you soon find that you have to mess with the position of each widget on each dialog, increasing the time, expense, and aggravation of the foreign-language versions.

Unlike many these visual designers, the JBuilder GUI builder allows you lay out your widgets with more than absolute positioning. You can use the Swing and AWT layout managers to place the widgets (which only makes sense, since the GUI builder has to output Java code in the end).

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