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Apache's Tomcat 5.5 is First Release Ever to Use Eclipse JDT Java Compiler

Apache's Tomcat 5.5 is First Release Ever to Use Eclipse JDT Java Compiler

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) has unveiled its next-generation Java server, Tomcat 5.5. This first release in the new 5.5 branch, users are warned, is not very stable according to Tomcat's developers. Apache's new Java server does contain some major advances, but many are only partially realized with the release.

One of the most significant changes in Tomcat 5.5 is the use of open source Eclipse Java development tools (JDT). Developers are no longer incumbent on Sun's SDK to compile Java. Furthermore, the use of Eclipse JDT means that the full JDK is no longer a requisite, since a Java run-time environment (JRE) is now enough. The Eclipse JDT Java compiler is included in Tomcat and with its binary distribution.

This pleases some developers who have complained that Sun's SDK is inferior to Eclipse JDT. "Sun's JSDK is slower than Eclipse JDT," Robert L. Murphy, a Tomcat community member and user, said. How quickly a compiler can compile code is critical and often will have direct bearing on an application's performance. Tomcat 5.5 can take JSP, JSPX, TAG, and TAGX files and converts them to Java scriplets.

However, the use of Eclipse JDT is not always in the developer's best interest. Murphy elaborated:

"If you have all JSPs compiled and don’t make frequent changes, the JDT is not an advantage. If you frequently change JSPs where the end user is the first to see a page after it is changed, JDT is important because the end user waits less time for the page to compile."

Another feature Tomcat 5.5 introduces is a new dependency to the application of JRE 5.0. This can potentially expand its usefulness; however, in another instance of Tomcat's potential liability, JRE 5.0 is part of Sun-led Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE), which itself is not stable. J2SE is listed as a release candidate, and since Tomcat relies upon JRE 5.0, the question of stability becomes an onerous one.

Developers have suggested using the older version, Tomcat 5.028, which was released as a bug fix when Tomcat 5.5 debuted. The 5.5 release is perhaps best viewed as a partial victory in the implementation of compiler functions that are not dependent on Sun's SDK. Yet, developers like Murphy have not let the flaws in Tomcat 5.5 completely dampen their expectations. He said, "If we can simplify our code by using new Java 1.5 features, then as soon as a stable version of Tomcat 5.5 arrives, we will roll out new projects on 5.5. I am looking forward to a stable 5.5."

 

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