Java News from Saturday, July 17, 2004

The Apache Project has released version 1.6.2 of Ant, the popular XML based open source build tool for Java. Version 1.6.2 allows nested elements for namespaced tasks and types to belong to the Ant default namespace as well as the task's or type's namespace. It also wraps all exceptions thrown by tasks in a BuildException that provides the fuile name and line number of the task. Finally it fixes a lot of bugs.

IBM's alphaWorks has released the Reflexive User Interface Builder, an application that constructs and renders graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for Java Swing and Eclipse Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) described in an XML document. According to the web site,

IBM Reflexive User Interface Builder is both a specification for a mark-up language in which to describe GUIs and an engine for creating (and, if desired, rendering) them. This application can be used as a stand-alone application for testing and evaluating basic GUI layout and functionality, or it can be used as a library within the context of a Java application for creating and rendering GUIs for that application.

The application supplies an optional means of validating properties of and relations between components. One can describe a set of constraints on components and then insure that the said components are in accord with these constraints. For instance, this application is packaged with a basic accessibility validation document that diagnoses select accessibility omisions in GUIs. Such mechanisms can enhance the rapid development, testing, and evaluation of GUI-based applications.

How does it work?

Although other XML script-driven, Java-based GUI engines have been developed, the power of this approach stems from its reliance upon the Java Reflection API, which allows classes to be introspected in order to reveal their fields, constructors, and methods. Proceeding in this way, IBM Reflexive User Interface Builder can create and render GUIs based solely upon the information in an XML document. This document need not conform to any pre-defined DTD or XML schema.

Excelsior has released JET 3.6, a Java virtual machine for Linux and Windows that uses a combination of a traditional native code compiler and just-in-time compilation from byte code. JET costs start at $200 and run up to $2300 depending on which version and how much support you want. Support is available by e-mail and Web site only.