I was asked in a feedback item about my thoughts on Eclipse. Let me preface with what I'm about to say is that as far as free development environments go, Eclipse is nice. I'd even say it's very nice.
With that said, I spent a good portion of the day yesterday downloading JDK 1.5, Tomcat 5.5 and Eclipse 3.01. Some observations:
1. The Java community needs to make it more clear for folks like me on what exactly they need. Case in point, both Tomcat and Eclipse claim they need a JRE. In reality, what you really need is a JDK. And Sun is none to clear on which one you need either, gladly offering you both side by side to download. So, mistake number one was downloading just a JRE and having untold amounts of problems getting things to work. Once I caught on that I needed the JDK, things got better. I'm sure folks who do Java for a living would say, "Duh! Of course you need the JDK." I'd offer back that for the unaquainted, it's not real obvious.
2. There's too many cooks in the pot. I had to go to Sun to get my JDK. I had to go to apache.org to get Tomcat. I had to go to Eclipse to get my editor. Then, once I had all of this installed, I discovered that Eclipse by itself doesn't do much more for me other than let me build Java applications or applets. Nothing about Web applications. This prompted a search whereupon I came across MyEclipse. Let me say this, I think I'm more impressed with MyEclipse than I am with Eclipse itself. I may even pop the $30 or so to buy MyEclipse.
3. Building on #2, I assume that I could get everything I need from Sun in SunONE. Only problem is, I don't know *anyone* I interact with using SunONE!
So, last night I dusted off my Java langauge skills and wrote a couple of classes and some JSPs. I quickly remembered that <jsp:useBean> is not my friend. Pinging some friends of mine, I've heard that Java Server Faces are an ASP.NET clone and something I should consider if I'm going to do more Web applications. Great. Another download.
Tonight I thought I'd expand my horizons a bit and create some Java Web services. Once they're running, my hope was to get them talking to .NET Framework clients. Then, have my .NET Framework Web services consumed by my Java clients ...
A hour later, I still haven't figured out what I need to create a Web service in Java. And Google - the savior of all programmers such as myself - is of little help. I'm learned enough to know that formal Web services support was introduced in J2EE 1.4 - yet I haven't a clue as to how to get started. [Yes, I know that my Tomcat enviornment is *not* a J2EE environment. I'm hoping that the Web services support is present in J2SE and I don't need to throw on a full blown J2EE stack to do this.) It appears to me that Sun has a Web Services development pack. Another download. However, it doesn't appear to like my JDK 1.5 installation. Then there's things like glue, Apache Axis, etc. You guessed it. Another download.
I'm going to keep plugging along tonight and see what I can get going. If anyone reading this has good Java knowledge in the Web services arena ... gimme a shout.