Hey there, Java lovers! If you’re someone who enjoys coding in Java or you’re just starting out, you probably know that having the right tools can make a big difference. In this article, we’re going to talk about 10 tools that every Java developer should know about. Whether you’re new to Java or a pro, these tools will help you write better code, find and fix mistakes, and make your coding life easier. So, let’s dive in and discover the essential tools that can supercharge your Java programming skills!
Imagine the Java Development Kit (JDK) as your foundation – it’s where Java begins. Then, step into the comfort of an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA, which makes coding a breeze. Version Control Systems (VCS) like Git help you track changes in your code and collaborate seamlessly with others. But that’s just the start; we’ll also delve into unit testing, debugging, code analysis, and more, all designed to empower you on your Java development journey, but before going to each tool, let’s understand what are Java Tools.
Java provides a wide range of tools for different parts of the development process, from coding to launching applications. Some tools are included in the Java Development Kit (JDK), while others are third-party tools developed by the community or other companies. Java has a variety of tools to enhance application efficiency, code quality, and overall productivity of the application. Following are the Java tools that can be extremely useful for Java developers.
1. Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) are software applications that provide a comprehensive set of tools for developers to write, edit, debug, test, and deploy code more efficiently. The IDEs for Java typically refer to a space where developers can write and edit Java code, fix errors by debugger, and directly compile and run Java applications from within the IDE, by testing of code. Below are the popular IDEs for Java.
A popular open-source Integrated Development Environment (IDE) with vast plugins and community support, those are primarily used for Java development. Whereas, the Eclipse IDE also supports other languages as well. Eclipse remains one of the most popular Java IDEs in the world, largely because of its flexibility, as it’s free to use (open-source), and the promotes a strong community.
- It is open-source and free to use where developers, develop applications as Eclipse is freely available, which makes it accessible for both individuals and organizations without any licensing costs.
- Eclipse has capabilities to extend its plugins which will boost up the environs of plugins, it allows developers to add multiple functionalities with great in-built features. This plugin architecture means that Eclipse can be used for more than just Java development, including C/C++, PHP, and many other languages.
- Eclipse is written in Java, so it can run on any platform as it supports a Java Runtime Environment (JRE), including Windows, macOS, and Linux.
- By using Eclipse IDE a user can sometimes face performance issues, especially in older hardware or in large projects.
- As it has an ample feature set and a vast plugin environment in it, its interface could be difficult for beginners to understand.
- Due to the vast number of plugins and frequent updates in the IDE, there could be sometimes compatibility issues can occur between different plugins or between a plugin and a particular version of Eclipse.
IntelliJ IDEA is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) developed by JetBrains, whereas it supports a wide range of programming languages, it’s particularly favoured in the Java community. There are two main editions of IntelliJ IDEA: the Community Edition, which is free and open-source, and the other one is Ultimate Edition, which is a paid version with additional features. It is developed by JetBrains which offers both a free community version as well as paid ultimate version with more functionalities and features. It is another highly popular IDE from JetBrains, known for its intelligent code completion and rich set of features.
- Intellij has faster startups time than some of its competitors
- The debugger in IntelliJ is feature-rich, offering advanced capabilities like inline variable values, data flow analysis, and more.
- JetBrains frequently releases updates, ensuring the IDE is up-to-date with the latest language features, tools, and best practices.
- The Ultimate Edition, which offers the fullest range of features, is not free. This can be a barrier for individual developers or small startups, although many believe the features justify the cost.
- IntelliJ IDEA is memory-intensive, especially when working on larger projects.
- Some users feel that Eclipse offers deeper customization options due to its open-source nature and extensive plugin ecosystem.
The build tools that automates the process of compiling, testing, documentation, automation that basically provides the consistent build process for the application, and packaging Java applications. Following are the build tools and dependency management.
Maven is both a build tool and a dependency management tool. Its configuration file is ‘pom.xml’ which lists project dependencies, where maven automatically downloads all the dependencies from the repositories. Maven handles the building, reporting, as well as documentation of the projects, it provides a lot of dependencies for the Java applications.
- It has predefined standards for project structure, builds, and dependencies.
- Maven provides a well-defined project lifecycle, which allows for systematic and consistent project builds that includes: Validate, Compile, Test, Package, Integration test, Verify, Install, and Deploy.
- Maven has a vast ecosystem of the plugins, which also enables extended functionalities such as code analysis, test coverage, and integration with other tools.
- Maven might not be as fast as some other build tools, especially for large projects.
- The quality and maintenance frequency can vary.
- Some plugins might not be updated regularly or could lack documentation.
Apart from what Maven offers, Gradle lets the developers create the custom build tasks using Groovy. Gradle processes the build through a lifecycle that includes tasks like initialization, configuration, and execution, whereas It fetches required libraries from repositories like Maven Central or JCenter, or even custom repositories.
- The Groovy-based DSL means developers have the flexibility of a scripting language to define and control their build process.
- Gradle provides an efficient mechanism to manage and resolve dependencies.
- For those used to Maven’s XML setup, moving to Gradle’s scripting with Groovy can take some time to learn.
- For small projects, Gradle’s many features might be too much, making easier tools a better choice.
2.3. Dependency Management
Java projects frequently rely on third-party libraries that are called dependencies. Where the Dependency Management tools help developers:
- Specify Dependencies
- Version Management
- Transitive Dependencies
- Repository Management
- Conflict Resolution
3. Version Control System
The Version Control System (VCS) is the tool which is used in software development for the tracking and managing of the changes that have been done in the codebases. It allows multiple developers to work on a project simultaneously without overwriting each other’s changes and helps to maintain a proper record of code modifications. The popular Version Control System (VCS) used in Java is described below:
Git is the Currently the most popular VCS, and platforms like GitHub, GitLab, and Bitbucket are built around Git. It is mainly used to track changes in source code during software development, allowing multiple developers to collaborate on a project.
- By using Git every developer has a full copy of the project, in which individuals can make changes accordingly and then again push the code into its master branch.
- Its efficient branching and merging make feature development and bug fixing seamless.
- Sometimes large repositories may slow down the performance
- Git struggles with large non-text files, making tracking changes in them tricky.
4. Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD)
The Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment is a fundamental concept in modern software development, including projects written in Java, where CI refers to the practice of frequently integrating code changes into a shared repository. When developers push their changes to the shared repository multiple times a day to the master branch, then after each push, their automated tests run to verify these changes to ensure that they don’t break the existing codebase in the actual repository. Whereas, the Continuous Delivery ensures that the codebase remains in a deployable state after each and every change done by the developer, as well as Continuous Deployment is where every change that passes the automated tests is automatically deployed to production, without manual intervention.
Jenkins automates the building, testing, and deployment of applications. If you have a web application, Jenkins can be set up to automatically deploy your application to a server whenever you push your changes to your repository.
Travis CI Integrates with GitHub. When you submit a pull request on GitHub, Travis CI can automatically run tests and report if they pass, and shows you that your working tree is clean with nothing to push.
Testing tools are the tools which support various types of testing, ranging from unit testing to integration testing and beyond that build the test cases according to the boundary conditions of your application. Some of the testing tools that are mentioned below.
JUnit is used for writing and executing the unit tests in Java, it builds the test case as per the application. Basically, JUnit is a tool in Java that lets developers write test cases to check if their code works fine as expected. By using JUnit, you can quickly find mistakes or issues in your code and fix them.
Mockito is a mocking framework that’s particularly useful for creating mock objects in unit tests. It lets you create dummy objects called mocks to simulate behaviour and interactions. If your code interacts with a database, you can use Mockito to “pretend” you’re accessing a database without actually doing so.
This tool examines the Java code without actually executing. Basically, they spot mistakes or parts of the code that might cause problems later, the main purpuse is they catch issues so you can fix them before they cause bigger problems. So, these tools consider for patterns, code structures, or configurations that might lead to errors, inefficiencies, or security vulnerabilities. The main goal is to improve code quality and maintainability by catching issues early in the development process.
It checks the coding standards for the application, the refinement of the code, the clarity of the code, potential bugs, and security vulnerabilities. It manages the code quality by scanning your code to identify the bugs. For example: a part of your code that might break because it’s looking for something that’s missing.
7. Application Profilers
The Application Profilers is the diagnostic tool which is designed to analyse the pattern of Java applications, and monitors the runtime behaviour of your Java applications. It identifies the performance bottleneck, memory leaks, thread contention, and there some issues which can affect the efficiency as well as stability of the program. Some of the profilers are describe below.
It tells how your Java application is running, showing metrics like memory usage and active threads, and if your application is using an unexpected amount of memory, VisualVM helps to identify the cause. It is a free tool that is bundled with the JDK (Java Development Kit), that offers basic profiling capabilities for both local and remote JVMs (Java Virtual Machine).
It is integrated into the NetBeans IDE, this tool provides CPU, memory, and thread profiling capabilities.
8. Database Management/ORM (Object Relational Mapping)
It is the tools and techniques which are used to interact with the databases more easily and efficiently. It’s all about handling and organising data in the databases. In Java, it uses specific tools or such libraries to connect with the databases, it reduces the redundancy of the code or queries, and manage data in databases by using any of the database like MySQL, Oracle, or PostgreSQL. Whereas ORM stands for Object Relational Mapping, in ORM where all the Java objects (or classes) are mapped or linked into the database in the form of tables and this task is automatically done as we used JPA in spring boot Java , instead of writing complex and raw SQL queries, developers can work with these objects, as well as the ORM tools will handle the database interactions automatically.
It allows Java applications to interact with databases using objects instead of writing complex SQL queries into the databases. For example: If you make a ‘User’ in Java, Hibernate can directly put it into a “users” database section without you having to type out detailed database commands.
8.2. JPA (Java Persistence API)
JPA is a set of rules or guidelines that describe how Java objects should be stored, updated, deleted, and retrieved from relational databases. It standardised the way, Java applications interact with databases using ORM (Object-Relational Mapping).
9. Web Development and Application Servers
Building web apps with Java means making the online programs using Java. These can be simple sites or big online systems developed by the Java developers. In Java, ‘Servlets’ are used to manage the website requests and give back responses. As the ‘JavaServer Pages’ (or JSP) allows you to mix the Java into web pages to make the changes based on user or information, and adjust according to the data. There are many tools in Java for this, like we use Spring MVC, JSF, and Struts. Java is popular for making web services, which are ways to communicate through the services. This includes both SOAP and REST types, there are special Java tools, like JAX-RS (for REST) and JAX-WS (for SOAP).
Spring boot makes the development part easy for the Java techies, as it has user friendly interface where developer, develops different kinds of microservices using the STS (Spring Tool Suit) tool, and let services to communicate with each other by building the Eureka Server, by using the Spring Boot developer can quickly set up the web server and can add dependencies according to their requirements, and can define the endpoints or API into their microservices for the Java application, and easily interact with the databases.
Tomcat is like a helper for Java websites. You give it your Java site, and Tomcat runs it for you, and tomcat ensures it operates smoothly, managing user interactions and overseeing the incoming and outgoing communications. Tomcat is like a manager for Java web apps, where it runs properly, handling all the user interactions for you as well as it will handle the requests and responses.
10. Containerization & Orchestration
Containerization is like putting a Java program and all it needs into a special box. This ensures the program acts the same everywhere. This ensures the application runs the same, regardless of where the container is deployed meaning that you can package or integrate. Basically it is like the program works the same no matter where you use the box. For instance, you can put a Java program its tools, and the other needed items into this container, now when you opens the box, it’s like the Java program has its own special space to run, this means the app works the same wherever you use this box.
Now, Orchestration comes into the role play when you have multiple containers that need to work together, or they need to talk to each other or change in number based on users, here the orchestration helps in managing this. For instance, if one box has the main website and another stores data, the orchestration tool ensures they work together properly. Let’s take another example, if your Java program is in two boxes, one for the main site and another for saving data, an orchestration tool helps these boxes for talking or communicating with each other and manages them.
Kubernetes is something which controls, and organizes the Docker containers. Suppose, if you have an online application that gets busy having load of traffic, or quiet based on user visits, now the Kubernetes can add more versions of your application during busy times and lessen them during quiet times.
It lets you to putting your application and all its stuff, and everything into a box, called a special box or a container. If your application needs certain tools or versions to work, or certain things to run, the docker makes sure it works the same way in every place you use it. As It should works the same everywhere, whenever you opens that box/container. It basically, package your application and its dependencies into a container. If your application requires specific versions of libraries, then Docker ensures it runs consistently across different environments.
These 10 java tools we’ve explored aren’t just gadgets; they’re like superheroes that come to your aid when you’re coding in Java. From the trusty Java Development Kit (JDK) that lays the foundation to the integrated environments like Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and others that make coding more manageable, these tools are your loyal companions. With version control, unit testing, debugging, code analysis, and performance monitoring tools, you’re equipped to tackle any Java development challenge that comes your way.
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