An IDE provides an integrated suite of tools for improving team productivity and software quality. It can also help simplify the task of developing systems for the J2EE platform with code wizards and online help for API reference material. You will likely use an IDE more than any other tool, so selecting an IDE that meets all your development needs is a critical decision.
When making that decision, ensure the tool supports the full development lifecycle of a J2EE application. The IDE should provide code wizards for generating J2EE program artifacts and powerful editors for all the main Java and J2EE file types, and it should integrate seamlessly with your choice of application server.
Regardless of the cost of the tool, an IDE represents a substantial investment in terms of time and effort. You must determine how the IDE can complement your development practices and what impact it will have on existing build processes.
To get maximum benefit from the tool, set time aside for training. Like any craftsman, you need to be skilled in the use of a tool to get the most from it. Gaining the expertise and knowledge to use a tool effectively is an important part of establishing a firm foundation for conducting rapid development.
The next chapter covers the benefits of test-driven development for RAD and explains how this approach promotes both agility and accuracy in the software development process. We also return to Eclipse to examine the important role the IDE plays in supporting a test-centric approach.
The MyEclipse plug-in was featured in this chapter. However, for anyone interested in open source alternatives, a tutorial on the use of the Lomboz equivalent is available from http://www.tusc.com.au/tutorial/html.
For information on IDEs other than Eclipse, see http://www.jetbrains.com for details on IntelliJ IDEA and http://www.borland.com for Borland's JBuilder and Together range of products.
These are both commercial products. For an open source product, visit the Web site for the NetBeans IDE at http://www.netbeans.org.