25 Java tools your business can’t live without
By Jamie Mercer
When creating an application, your team of developers will spend hours developing, testing and deploying code. To get the job done right they’ll need to have the right Java tools in place, but how do you decide which is best for you.
Java is the most commonly used programming language in a business setting. Due to this immense popularity, there are hundreds of tools available to help speed up your development and make your code more concise.
Ultimately, the tools you decide to introduce into your development will come down to the focus of your application, the developers you have in place, and the timescale you’ve set out to finish a project.
But what you’ll need to remember is for every tool to be productive, your team of developers will require a deeper understanding of the Java programming language. Otherwise, you won’t be able to use them effectively.
Deciding on the right development kit will take time, and if you’re unsure which to select first, FRG Technology Consulting has put together this list of Java tools your business can’t live without.
Which version of Java should I use?
Before you make any decisions concerning your development tools, you’ll need to decide on the version of Java your team of developers will use to create the application.
Currently, in the Java ecosystem, there are two version of the language developers can use to build software. Java 8, the current long-term support (LTS) version, and Java 11, the new rapid release version (RRV).
All of the tools will offer support for the LTS version of the language, but if you choose to go for the newest release, there is a chance some of the frameworks, IDEs or app servers won’t have received updates to successfully cope.
One of the first vital decisions you’ll need to make when creating an application is choosing which integrated developer environment to use. Many developers have a preferred IDE; however, your business may prefer all of your team to utilise the same piece of technology.
Every IDE includes helpful shortcuts and plugins to help improve the performance of your development team, and below we’ve listed some of the most popular on the market.
The most popular open source IDE used by developers, Eclipse is well recognised across the world of software development. Famous for its integrated Java Development Environment and significant community backing, the IDE has a wealth of external plugins to improve performance and speed up development.
A widely used IDE, NetBeans offers something more than its traditional counterparts with out-of-the-box compatibility for Maven and Git. Free to download for your business, it comes with a plethora of performance optimisation tools and external plugins that make it one of the top developer tools available.
Developed by GitHub, Atom is built for developers by developers. A free, hackable IDE, it comes complete with cross-platform support, a built-in package manager, and autocompletion.
The IDE also allows developers to create their own source package and implement those provided by third parties. Because of this, it’s held in high esteem by the entire development community.
If you’re looking to branch into mobile development, ensuring your team of developers is familiar with Android Studio should be a top priority. The official IDE of the Android operating system, it was originally built on the IntelliJ platform, and since its inception has become the replacement for the Eclipse Android Development Tool (ADT).
Topping the popularity rankings for IDEs is Visual Studio, an environment that produces both native and managed code, its extensive library of extensions and plugins make it an essential tools for every development team.
The basic edition of the IDE is free of charge. However, if you’re looking to use it within a business setting, you will need to pay for a yearly subscription to gain full advantage of all its features.
If you’re looking for a tool to manage more complicated websites, IBM’s Websphere offers your business a very flexible JRE. Built for multi-cloud support, it can enhance your developer productivity and increase the security of your application while still optimising development environment.
Apache Tomcat is an open-source Java servlet container that implements different specifications of the Java EE platform. A cross-platform collaboration maintained by an active developer community, TomCat can be used as a standalone product or alongside other web servers.
Now known as Wildfly, JBoss is a cross-platform application server that was developed in the Java programming language. A lightweight, flexible application, it’s primarily used to implement Java and other web-based applications.
Building on other open-source products including Hibernate, RESTEasy, and Arquillian, Wildfly offers modern web apps the ability to boot quickly and scale faster.
Focused primarily on communication between different machines, Jetty is a Java Servlet container that runs within larger software frameworks. An open-source project, Jetty is part of the Eclipse foundation and can be easily embedded in other devices, applications services, and development clusters.
When looking for a continuous integration tool for your business, your first port of call should be Jenkins. The software of choice for many development teams, Jenkins is an open-source automation server that helps to automate the non-human part of development.
Running as a server-based system, Jenkins supports version control and provides a CI environment that can combine any source code and repositories. The application server also provides your development team with a robust way to integrate your build, test, and deployment tools.
Ensuring your application is tested and runs correctly is a vital part of the development process. By using a testing tool to determine whether your application matches your requirements, your development team can check for bugs and make sure it meets the needs of the end user.
So to make sure you get the most out of your application, we’ve listed some of the top tools to help you test it correctly.
An open-source application, JUnit was designed to write and run tests in the Java programming language. Thanks to its inbuilt graphical interface (GUI), JUnit allows developers to incrementally build tests to measure progress and source the areas of code where bugs crop up. All the tests designed through JUnit can be run continuously throughout the entire development process.
Another open-source tool, Spock is a business-driven development (BDD) testing and mocking framework used during the creation of applications in the Java and Groovy programming languages. A highly expressive specification language, it’s compatible with most popular IDEs and builds tools thanks to its inbuilt JUnit runner.
If your business favours BDD, but you’re looking for an alternative to Spock, then Mockito should be your top choice. One of the most popular mocking frameworks on the market, it’s simple syntax allows for the effective unit testing of all Java applications.
One of the most powerful automated testing tools available, Selenium is a portable open-source framework that allows your development team to inspect web applications without the need for a scripting language. Although the application server does have a domain-specific language (Selenese) it’s highly compatible with Java.
Creating an application can be tricky, especially if your business doesn’t have the relevant Java frameworks in place to assist your development team. Normally large bodies of pre-written code that can be used to solve common issues you’re likely to face, frameworks can also help structure your application.
A free open-source framework, Spring is the top choice for most businesses and developers who work with Java programming language. Handling all development infrastructure, it allows your team to create applications of all shapes and sizes, and has many core Java features preinstalled.
Along with Spring, Play is another open-source framework, and allows your development team to build lightweight applications for desktop and mobile using the Java programming language.
Unlike many of its counterparts, Play does not rely on Java EE, and closely resembles frameworks that work well with PHP and Ruby. Because it’s so web-friendly, Play also removes obstacles traditionally encountered by developers when speeding up the development cycle.
When looking for frameworks to partner with the Java programming language, Apache has many options that can suit your development needs.
Wicket is one of the most popular and lightweight frameworks on offer from the Apache Foundation, and allows your development team to create applications using Java and HTML.
Offering added compatibility with Ajax, and the possibility to create reusable web components, it allows developers to perform real-time updates to applications without the need for extra scripting languages.
A build automation tool that operates in conjunction with the Java programming language, Maven comes with in-built, pre-defined targets to aid the performance of development tasks.
Hosted by the Apache Software Foundation, Maven dynamically downloads all the Java libraries and plugins needed to create an application from a repository and stores them in a local cache for when your team requires them.
Even though this build automation system doesn’t directly use the Java programming language, and uses Groovy instead, it introduces a DSL instead of XML for project configuration.
Designed to be used in a multi-project build, Gradle supports an incremental build strategy, meaning any parts of the code that are up to date will not be re-executed.
Building upon the concepts of Apache Ant and Apache Maven, it enhances their flexibility and ease of use, allowing for a clearer, more concise development process.
Most Java IDEs come with their very own in-built compiler, but it can also be helpful to have a standalone compiler to double check your code.
Part of the JDK, Javac is one of the top compilers available for a business. With long-term support offered by Oracle, if you choose to utilise the tool, it can safely be installed and will continue to receive regular support and updates.
A java programming language with a difference, Groovy is an object-oriented static and dynamic language that can be used to code and compile applications in the JVM.
Integrating with other Java code and libraries to develop applications, the language uses a very similar syntax to Java, and is a natural substitute for developers who only have experience using Java to create software and apps.
When your business has multiple developers working on pieces of software that will eventually need to be merged, having a version control system that’s able to track these files is a vital part of the process.
Git is the best programme available on the market, and can be used to keep track of any changes to your source code. Fast becoming the standard for version control, the aim of the software is to speed up development, improve the integrity of your data, and offer support to nonlinear workflows.
If you’re looking for a database management tool to work closely with the Java programming language, then Oracle’s out-of-the-box option could be your best bet. A multi-model database, it can be used for OLTP, data warehousing and is available on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment.
Java Development Kit (JDK)
The standard implementation of the Java platform, the JDK includes everything your business needs to get application development off the ground. Normally a version of one a Java platforms, it includes a private JVM; a compiler like Javac. An extension of the SDK, it can assist your developers with debugging and monitoring their applications.
Finding bugs in any application is never an ideal scenario during development. Many businesses want the entire process to run as smoothly as possible, so why not use a specific tool that highlights issues right from the get-go.
Find Bugs is a piece of open-source software that analyses static bytecode to pick out any errors that may stop the code from compiling. Enabling your development team to discover bugs faster than usually possible, it also offers them an indication of how severe a bug can be to your app.
Normally, the tool a developer will use comes down to personal preference, and you’ll need to keep in mind that they’ll want to continue using it when working within your development team.
But you’ll also need to prioritise the tools that suit your development, and to successfully complete an application, you many need to combine many of the tools listed above.
Hopefully, our handy guide can help you to identify the tools that are the most suitable, and match the requirements in your development plan.