Although it is possible to compile Java applications and applets from the command line (which is the method we have chosen for this book), it is a good idea to use an integrated development environment (IDE). The main reason for this is that it gives you everything in one place (i.e., a text editor, compiler/interpreter linkage, help system, and sometimes even more useful features such as code auto-complete).
Our development tool of choice is JCreator, as it provides a reasonably simple IDE that maintains some great features. The freeware version is available on the companion CD; however, we highly recommend upgrading to the professional version. More information can be found on the web site http://www. jcreator .com.
The IDE that our technical editor Mika likes is IntelliJ IDE. It is quite easy to use and has many very powerful features in it: http://www.intellij.com/idea/.
(From technical editor Joel) If you have a few extra megabytes of RAM, definitely give Eclipse a try. This free open -source Java editor built by IBM is better than many professional level IDEs and is gaining a large contributing user community, as well as industry support (including Borland, Rational, Togethersoft, and Webgain). It allows for clean, straightforward navigation and advanced debugging of code, with tools and wizards to build and refactor your code. Incremental compiling allows you to modify your program while it is running. It is useful for writing game servers for a network: http://www.eclipse.org.
http://java.sun.com—This site is the home of the Java platform and provides all of the latest news and updates about Java. Among its vast amount of features, this site includes the latest releases of the J2SDK for downloading, a large developer's community (which you may sign up to), and many useful online tutorials.
http://www.javagaming.org—This site is supported by Sun Microsystems and is designed to support the making of games using Java technology for any range of programmer. This site includes tutorials and maintains a large community of forums full of experienced Java programmers who will answer your questions in no time. In saying that, the current forums are so vast that they should cover a lot of your questions already. (We won't give you our usernames on this site to save us from embarrassment, in case you happen to notice some of the questions that we might have posted to the boards .)
http://www. javaworld .com—This site includes many tutorials and columns covering a wide range of topics with contributions from programmers all around the world; it also contains many forums for you to post questions. You could one day post a useful column on this site, if you become good enough.
http://www.mysql.com—This is the home site for the MySQL open source database. This site includes important downloads that we will discuss in Chapter 15 when we look at using databases for storing online information and connecting to it via JDBC (Java Database Connectivity).
In this chapter, we found out about Java and then followed that by setting up the Java SDK. In the next chapter we will take a look at the basics of Java programming. Now that Java has become more games oriented, we can only presume that it will get better and better. As more developers use it, there will be more demand for new features, which will strengthen this already great language even more in the future.