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Jolt Awards

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June, 2005: The 15th Annual Software Development Jolt & Productivity Awards

Software Development

June 2005

LANGUAGE AND DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENTS


Philip Ma, Senior Alliance Manager, HP Software Global Business Unit

Eclipse 3.0
Eclipse Foundation

Of all the open source claims, the idea that it could produce a universal tool platform is probably among the least credible. A great operating system? Well, a lot of OSes, a lot of experience and a lot of ideas have been floating around. A great Web server? Well, that's a clear, focused goal. But many people, including some Jolt judges, still think that programming preferences are so personal and idiosyncratic that integrating a debugger and testing framework, much less graphical design tools, is a fool's errand. Eclipse has not only proved them wrong, it's proved them so wrong that the platform may just be the engine that makes Java relevant on the desktop.

In the three years since morphing from an internal IBM project, Eclipse has achieved not only a self-sustaining level, but has become one of the most dynamic and exciting open source projects around. And, in a world in which programming products end up feeling like barnacle-covered hulls of ancient vessels, Eclipse's Rich Client Platform allows Java developers to deliver applications with great UIs and functionality. The old phrase "designed by committee" is a well-known insult, but from the OSGi plug-in model to the then-controversial Standard Widget Toolkit, the Eclipse Foundation and its predecessors have consistently made the types of insightful technical decisions that one might expect from only a hierarchical organization.

It provides a benchmark of quality technical decisions that should impress the most skeptical observer.

—Larry O'Brien

Productivity Award Winners

IntelliJ IDEA 4.5
JetBrains

If you develop in Java, especially under J2EE, you need to look at IntelliJ IDEA. This development environment isn't sodden with feature bloat, yet it has everything most developers will need, in a clean, configurable interface. The product's intent is to take the productivity roadblocks out of the task of turning text into software—and it's succeeded year after year.

Version 4.5 fully supports the new JDK 1.5, supplying the same kind of code-completion and intentional-programming features for language constructs like generics and type-safe enumerations. There's an automatic sniffer for the duplicate-code smell, a search function based not just on text but on code structure, and, of course, fresh additions to the menagerie that made IDEA famous in the first place: refactoring.

—Rick Wayne

Python 2.4
python.org

Python 2.4 may well be the last major release of Python before it evolves into Python 3000, which will forego backward compatibility for consistency and elegance. The latest version introduces generator statements and function decorators—higher-level constructs that can make data-structure traversals and metafunctionality even more elegant to express in Python's appealingly terse style. Also new to this version are sets (collections in which duplicates are forbidden), a decimal data type of user-specifiable precision, and reverse iteration. Not every judge was convinced these improvements were dramatic enough to warrant the Jolt, and I regret that an implementation of Gibbons' unbounded spigot algorithm for pi (in which the parameters quickly iterate outside the bounds of 32- or 64-bit representation) was not enough to convince them.

—Larry O'Brien

REALbasic 5.5 for Windows
REAL Software

Basic is probably the most used programming language today. From Austin, Texas–based REAL Software, REALbasic for Windows Professional Edition is a product that offers the ease of use of modern Basic language capabilities with a rich set of runtime functions and the ability to deploy programs on multiple platforms—Windows, Linux and Macintosh—and it also makes it easy to port Visual Basic programs to Linux. REALbasic provides a common, portable database that you can use on any platform, with the ability to connect to commercial database systems.

With a complete development environment that includes a debugger and UI designer, REALbasic has everything you would expect in a professional programming product. Take a test drive: You'll realize that this is not your grandmother's Basic language and environment.

—Gary Pollice



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