As a product from Symantec Visual Café was for years one of the best Java development environments. Now it's in the fold of WebGain, Inc., and that's turning out to be a good thing, because Visual Café has become more accurately aimed at enterprise level, the Web and intranet applications.
Read Review: Visual Café 4 Enterprise Edition
"As a product from Symantec Visual Café was for years one of the best Java development environments. "
This statement alone was enough to stop reading the article...
I have been using Visual Cafe standard edition for the last 4 months. Client's choice. I like Visual Age for Java.
I can safely say, given my experience with the standard version, that it is one of the worst IDEs I have ever used.
It can't auto-complete anything that isn't inside it's project or part of the standard Java API. For instance, if I add weblogicaux.jar to my CLASSPATH inside the JVM (Lets skip the fact that I have to restart the IDE for that change to be picked up!) then I have access to the javax.ejb pacakges. But, since VC doesn't see the code in my project, it will NOT auto-complete for me. Now I've looked everywhere for some option I need to turn on and I can't find it.
Basically, if enterprise edition is anything like standard then I would steer well clear of this product range!
Of course, this is just my opinion. IDEs usually lead to debates of a religious nature! :-)
Our company made the mistake of going with the complete Webgain solution and as such have found ourselves with many unused Visual Cafe licenses. Don't get me wrong, we thoroughly love Weblogic Server but I don't think that we have but one or two developers still subjecting themselves to Visual Cafe. Many are using Wordpad or Homesite and I personally just switched to Forte which does everything I need. While Visual Cafe may have a lot of nice features it has been our experience that the product is VERY unstable. I personally have tried every edition from 3.0 up and every single new edition seems less stable than the last. I am running on NT with 256 MBytes RAM which should be an ideal platform. I have never used a development tool which crashes as often as this product and when crunch time comes the last thing you want is a program which you can not rely upon. In adittion to the stability issues, I cringe when I have to help a fellow developer who is running a 98 machine with 128 MBytes RAM and trying to use Visual Cafe. It is so slow as to be painful.
To be fair I have not spent much time using Visual Age or JBuilder so for all I know they may be worse. I do know that Forte which is free is a nice editor which has yet to crash on me.
Yeah, that's been my experience as well. The earlier versions crashed as often as they were opened. That's why, after reading the first line of that article, I stopped there. We just got jbuilder enterprise 4 and, so far, it seems pretty neat. I was using the free version of jb4 for a very long time. cya
I read the reply and thought, hang on thats a bit unfair. Cafe is great, I've been using it since version 2. Fine it lagged behind the JDK releases, fine the multithreading debugger doesn't work. Fine the upgrade password stopped working for some wierd reason.
Umm, then I thought about how I use it now (and I've used standard and enterprise editions). I basically use it as a windows code editor. Version 4 was failed to impress me for several reasons:
a) The search and replace within the project now causes the thing to crash. Now this may seem trivial, but its the one thing that I could do that my winedit counterparts couldn't.
b) Well I don't use any other feature so I wouldn't know.
But having said that, I just tried visual age - i.e. as a code editor rather than an enterprise design tool, and the learning curve is way too steep. Last time I tried JBuilder was about 4 years ago, but I don't hear anything bad about it, so I think I'll choose that for the new project.
Either that or emacs.
The other thing that I wondered about is why symantec dumped it - I think it must have been losing market share and they were wetting themselves about the free IDE - i.e. Forte. Pure guess work that.
I would have to say Visual Cafe is the worst of the major IDEs especially now that Visual J++ is gone. I have used JBuilder, Visual Age and Forte for Java Community edition. JBuilder Foundation and Forte for Java are both free and do more with fewer problems than Visual Cafe.
BTW you can get the code completion to work but you have to add the source code to your source path and add it as an import and then tell it to parse all. A lot of steps to get it to work when JBuilder does it without your noticing it. Since code completion is about the only reason I use an IDE rather than VI - visual cafe is worse than nothing.
It may also be the slowest IDE there is. This is amazing since Visual Age is written in Small Talk and JBuilder and Forte are both written in Java. Visual Cafe is a native windows app for crying out loud.
Also given its snail pace starting up etc it is a real pain that I have to exit the IDE for any change to take effect.
In summary ----- Yuck!
Yes, JBuilder rules.