Simply put, Object Venture’s ObjectAssembler is a sweet tool at any price. But at $499, this thing is a steal. ObjectAssembler fills the gaping niche of reasonably priced visual J2EE-oriented Rapid Application Development (RAD) environment. Using ObjectAssembler, you can plan on saving time, by stopping errors before they are created, enforcing pattern usage (both J2EE patterns and internal best practices) and automating much of the process of creating components and deployment archives.
Add to that the ability to easily edit your source directly or integrate with some of the more popular IDEs, and vendor-specific deployment to some of the most well-known application servers and you have a viable development tool that competes at the enterprise level. Even though ObjectVenture is a small software company, comparatively speaking, I found the support and service to be outstanding. This enhanced my recommendation of this project. If you are looking for a new development environment that will positively affect your development time and the quality of the applications you are producing, then I recommend at the very least evaluating ObjectAssembler.
If you have read any of my other reviews, you probably have noticed the type of software I like to evaluate, mid-level development tools. The reality is that most reviewers are evaluating open source (i.e. free) or enterprise level (i.e. expensive) software. I simply focus on the rest.
That said, I wanted to look into ObjectAssembler, a visual J2EE IDE. In the J2EE world, finding a decent RAD-oriented development environment, if you even can, will set you back at least a couple grand. It seemed to me that there must be other options. Sure enough, I found Object Assembler.
Creating a good visual IDE is a challenge. A good visual J2EE IDE should:
- Simplify the coding process and speed development.
- Abstract necessary code items, but let the programmer go directly to the source, if necessary.
- Have a visual paradigm that is intuitive.
- Not be so complex that there is a long learning curve to begin developing, but complex enough to perform the necessary tasks.
- Be customizable.
- Integrate with other (non-visual) IDEs.
- Integrate with multiple J2EE application servers (or at least the one you are using…).
When I initially stumbled across ObjectAssembler, it seemed to meet all of these requirements. I had to learn more.
Installation & Requirements
Installing ObjectAssembler is a simple task. It is recommended that you use JRE version 1.4.1. I didn’t initially have this and found that a number of components weren’t installed ,including Tomcat 4. After downloading JRE, everything installed with no problem.
ObjectAssembler requires the following:
- Pentium II, 266 MHz or better
- 128 MB (minimum), 256 MB (recommended)
- 25 MB free disk space for plug-in installation or 75MB for standalone
- Display resolution of 1024×760 or better
- Windows NT 4.0 SP 4 or greater, Windows 2000/XP, Linux, or Mac OS X
It will work with the following IDE’s:
- JBuilder (all editions)
- Sun ONE Studio (all editions)
- Netbeans version 3.X.
It will work with the following application servers (note: ObjectAssembler supports J2EE 1.3):
- BEA WebLogic Application Server 7.x
- HP Application Server 8.x and RadPak.
Other than Eclipse and IBM WebSphere Studio, the major IDEs are covered. ObjectVenture says more IDE integration is impending. BEA is the most popular application server, so it is no surprise they supported it. I’m not sure why they chose HP, but future versions of ObjectAssembler will also include support for other application servers.