What's new in IBM Rational Application Developer Version 7.5

This article provides an overview of the new features of IBM® Rational® Application Developer Version 7.5. It is the successor to Version 7.0; therefore, a basic familiarity with V7.0 (or V6.0) is useful.

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Four changes that make installation easier

Rational Application Developer V7.5 continues the method of installation by components, which provides additional flexibility. Depending on the components chosen during the installation, this method can also result in a smaller size.

These are the major changes to the installation process:

  • Supports installation by someone other than the system administrator (non-admin installation)
  • IBM® WebSphere ® Application Server Test Environment extensions, not features
  • Profile creation for WebSphere Application Server Test Environment installation
  • Help configuration

The subsections that follow explain each of these further.

Non-admin installation

Many large enterprises lock the workstation as a security precaution. Administrator rights (in Microsoft Windows) are usually granted on a temporary basis. The software can now be installed while logged on as a non-admin user by selecting Run As from the context menu while running the launchpad.exe file (see Figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1. The "Run as" option
launchpaid.exe and
Figure 2. Option to select "Current user" as installer

Rational Application Developer V7.5 can coexist with V7.0 on the same workstation.

Installation Manager 1.2 is required to install Rational Application Developer V7.5. It continues to support n-2 version of the servers, such as IBM WebSphere Application Server V6.0, V6.1 and the latest, V7.0. This also means that V5.1 is no longer available with V7.5. The support for Network Deploy (ND) server has also been dropped. There is support for IBM® WebSphere® Portal Server 6.1 for the first time.

Separate installation for WebSphere Application Server

The WebSphere Application Server Test Enviornment (WTE) installation is now separate in the Installation Manager (Figure 3), rather than an option in the Rational Application Developer installation.

Figure 3. Install Packages view
Installation package options with check boxes

Although the WTE requires a separate installation, it is dependent on the corresponding WebSphere Application Server development tool options under Rational Application Developer V7.5 (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Check WebSphere Application Server development tool choices
Options: Tools for various server versions

You will get the reminder message that Figure 5 shows if you attempt to install the server without checking this option.

Figure 5. Error message as a reminder to install WebSphere server tools
Gives instructions, too

New option to create a server profile during installation

You can now create a WebSphere Application Server profile during the Rational Application Developer installation. Start by checking the Create a profile check box (Figure 6).

Figure 6. Configuration of the WebSphere Application Server
Features tab with fields for profile name and path

If an administrator or root user is doing the installation for a non-administrative user or non-root user, it is better to skip profile creation during the installation. When a non-admin user or non-root user starts the workbench, the software will detect whether a profile that the user can use already exists and prompt the user to create one if necessary.

Choose how to access the Help system

Also new is the option to configure how you prefer to access the Help system (Figure 7), with three choices: Web, downloaded and stored locally, stored on a server on your organization's intranet.

Figure 7. Help system access configuration options
Common configurations: Help system

See the IBM Technote cited in Resources for details about what these different options do.

Migration wizard for clearer and easier process and status monitoring

Migration is often the first thought that comes to mind before using a new version of software. The Rational developers have responded to feedback from customers to make several improvements to this very important aspect.

In previous versions, it was sometimes difficult to determine when migration was in process, had completed, and whether it succeeded or failed. That is no longer the case, thanks to the migration validation tool that runs as part of the migration step. As Figure 8shows, the Migration Results view lists the progress and identifies any errors during migration.

Figure 8. Migration Results view
Screen capture

You can migrate projects and workspaces that were created in Rational Application Developer 6 and 7 in the same ways that you did for previous versions:

  • Open a workspace in Version 7.5
  • Import projects in Project Interchange Format into Version 7.5
  • Check out projects from a supported source code management system (CVS, IBM® Rational® Clearcase, IBM® Rational® Team Concert)

Notes:

  • Java™ 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) versions are not migrated and require a separate process.
  • IBM® Rational® Team Concert is also a supported source code management system, although source code control is only a small aspect of that collaboration tool.

A plug-in automatically determines whether migration is necessary or not. If you need to migrate a project or workspace, the migration wizard (Figure 8) will notify you when you open your workspace or import a project.

Figure 9. Workspace Migration wizard
Notification that the migration is necessary

The wizard provides a list of projects that need to be migrated if you want to use them, but you can choose which ones you want to migrate. A major cause of failed migration in previous versions was that files in source control were not checked out and the user did not have read-write permission. The migration wizard now initiates checkout for all files that need to be modified. This list can be saved and used for check-in later (see Figure 9).

Figure 10. Migration Project Resources view
list: files that may be modified during migration

Migration will also identify an unknown server target (Figure 10) and provide a list of alternative server targets.

Figure 11. Undefined Server Runtime view
New server in right column

This tool provides other benefits, too:

  • The wizard will show the list of unsupported servers and ask you to delete those as part of the migration framework.
  • When you import a project that was created from a Rational Application Developer V6 workspace and was targeted to WebSphere Application Server V5.1, the tool will automatically retarget the project to the lowest-available version of the server in Rational Application Developer V7.5 in this order: V6.0, V6.1, V7.
  • When you import a project that was created in a Rational Application Developer V7 workspace and targeted to WebSphere Application Server V5.1, you will be prompted to assign to a different run time.

Web 2.0 support added

WebSphere Feature Pack for Web 2.0 provides a comprehensive set of application and JavaScript libraries to enable development of Java Enterprise Edition (JEE) applications with rich Web 2.0 interfaces. It installs as an add-on for preexisting WebSphere Application Server V6.0, V6.1, and V7.0 installations. When installing the server, make sure that this feature is selected.

Rational Application Developer V7.5 provides tooling for RPC (remote procedure call) Adapter, Ajax Proxy, Dojo Toolkit, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) 4J, and Web Messaging Service. These Web 2.0 features are enabled through the Web 2.0 project facet (Figure 12).

Figure 12. Project Facets view
Web 2.0 and Runtimes options

The graphical display of the editor (Figure 13) and the Code Assist feature (Figure 14) make it easy to configure the services. The graphical editor makes it easy to configure the services. The xml file is parsed and presented in a tree format. The nodes and attributes can be changed easily.

Figure 13. RPC Adapter Configuration Editor
RPCAdapterConfig.xml tab active
Figure 14. Code Assist for Dojo
Code assistance for dojoType=
Figure 15. Code Assist for JavaScript
Javascript code completion
Figure 16. Dojo palette
Columns: Form, Layout, Other, IBM Extensions

Split-screen code and design views in Page Designer

Page Designer is now enhanced with a split view that shows both the design and source code page in the same display (Figure 17). Updates to the design and source code are synchronized automatically.

Figure 17. Page Designer split screen options
Horizontal or vertical split, design or source 1st

Struts 1.2 and 1.3 support updates

Rational Application Developer V7.5 updates support for Struts to 1.2 and 1.3. New Struts 1.1 projects cannot be created, but projects from Rational Application Developer V6.0 and V7.0 with Struts 1.1 will work. The Web Diagram Editor, Struts Configuration File Editor, Wizards, and Attribute views have been enhanced to support the new Struts runtime options.

Major additions to Struts 1.2 and 1.3 from 1.1 are support for wildcards in action mappings (Figure 18) and the ability to extend Struts artifacts.

Figure 18. Struts 1.2 and 1.3 wildcard support
Struts Configuration Editor wildcard support

Struts 1.2 and 1.3 support for the "extends" attribute

Struts 1.3 allows action mappings, form beans, global forwards, and global exceptions to inherit properties from other artifacts by using the "extends" attribute. The Enterprise Explorer tab displays little blue triangles on artifacts that extend other artifacts (Figure 19).

Figure 19. Enterprise Explorer tab
Enterprise Explorer visual indicator for extends
Figure 20. Struts Configurtion Editor provides a field to support the "extends" attribute
Struts Configuration Editor extends support
Figure 21. New Action Mapping Wizard provides a field to support the "extends" attribute
New Action Mapping Wizard

Java Enterprise Edition support and New Project wizards

JEE 5 is the successor to J2EE 1.4. The goal of this specification is to make development easier and straight-forward while maintaining the depth and richness of J2EE 1.4. Updates have been made to Web services, with inclusion of JSF in the base specification. Perhaps the most dramatic simplification was toward the Enterprise Java™Beans (EJB) specification and introduction of the Java Persistence API (JPA).

Rational Application Developer V7.5 provides full JEE 5 support, and New Project wizards can create all of the newest JEE 5 artifacts.

Annotations view enhanced by Content Assist feature

Annotation introduced in Java™ 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE) 1.5 is used heavily in JEE 5. The Java editor has been enhanced with an enriched Content Assist feature that works with annotation tags and provides as-you-type validation. An Annotations view provides convenient visual editing of all of the annotations in a class. Annotations are grouped logically in a tree. Annotations can be added or removed using the toolbar icon. Content Assist is also available in the Annotations view. All edits are synchronized with the source file. JEE 5 provides extensive, sensible defaults. Icons called Indicators besides each field provide hints if a field has a default.

Figure 22. Annotations view
Mouse-over message shows implied value for Name

Streamlined Deployment Descriptor editors

All JEE 5 deployment descriptor editors have the same look and feel. Previously, depending on the deployment descriptor being edited, the editor had numerous tabs. All of these tabs are now consolidated into the Design tab and the various options are in a tree view.

Figure 23. Deployment Descriptor editor view
Structure on left, Details on right

JavaServer Faces enhancements

Java™Server Faces (JSF) is now part of JEE 5. The major change to JSF tooling in Rational Application Developer V7.5 is the ability to use any JSF implementation. You can now use any third-party implementation, such as MyFaces, Tomahawk or even your own custom faces library.

Figure 24. Third party JSF implementation support
Third party JSF Component Library in the Palette View

More details about these JSF enhancements is published in the developerWorks article, What's new in JavaServer Faces tooling in Rational Application Developer Version 7.5?, by Yury Kats.

Easy ways to use the Java Persistence API

Rational Application Developer V7.5 also provides an easy way to create and use the JPA. Rational Application Developer always had extensive support for connecting to various backend databases. JPA entities can be generated by connecting to these databases, or it can be created by using the editor. For details, see the developerWorks article by Thomas Mutdosch, which is cited in Resources.

Details and trial version

This article gave an overview of what's new in Rational Application Developer V7.5 with the highlight on support for JEE5 and Web 2.0 features. With these updates, you can implement projects that are based on these latest specifications. The Rational Application Developer for WebSphere Software product page includes a detailed feature and benefits listing. By far the best way to experience these features is to install and use Rational Application Developer V7.5 (see Resources for a link to the trial version).

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Benjamin Tran and Tommy Kong for reviewing this article.

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