Chapter 11. The Developer Ecology

There was a time, not all that long ago, when developers faced the vast emptiness of an unwritten program carrying only the simple tools of an editor, a compiler, and (if they were lucky) a debugger. Like their spiritual forefathers who carved a country out of the forests with just an axe and a flintlock, these hardy developers built things of lasting beauty with remarkably crude tools. Get a bunch of older developers together and they will soon be talking about the deprivations of those times, and how programmers these days have it soft and don’t really know what it was like to wait for hours to get a compile done or to track down a subtle bug with nothing but their bare hands and printf.

But we are no longer in the frontier times of software development. Indeed, there is a thriving ecology around tools for the software developer, especially around the Java language and environment. Although there are still remarkable craftsmen (and craftswomen) building software using the coding equivalents of axes and flintlocks, developers now have a selection of power tools that make things easier and aid in the production of good software. These aren’t really part of the Java language or runtime, but many of these tools have grown up around the language and runtime. So our final look at the good parts of Java will be to take a quick tour of some of these tools and talk a bit about how they can improve a developer’s life.

Technically, we have already talked about ...

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