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TEXTBOX_HEAD: The Bottom Line
For a minimal entry price, Kawa delivers solid development features to improve productivity in Java coding. Version-control capabilities make it ideal for team-based projects, and the capability to wrap around multiple JDKs ensures solid long-term return on investment.
Code-level access lets developers maintain strict control over development. However, Kawa's lack of wizard-driven editing features makes this an IDE best suited for experienced programmers.
29 per seat
Tek-Tools Inc., Dallas; (972) 980-2890
Usually it all boils down to a matter of experience. Many junior programmers work faster with visual IDEs, which spruce up the stark command-line interface of the modern JDK (Java Development Kit) with user-friendly refinements. But to senior developers, bells and whistles only slow them down by distancing them from the underlying code structure.
Tek-Tools' Kawa 4.0 is the kind of streamlined IDE meant for experienced Java programmers who don't want to burrow through graphical frills. Unlike competitors like Symantec Visual Café and Inprise JBuilder, Kawa doesn't have any wizards, database client-development capabilities, large source-code samples, or drag-and-drop tools.
The package also lacks some distributed application development beans, such as CORBA support, making it more appropriate for small and midsized team development or lightweight enterprise integration. Meanwhile, the absence of tools for GUI construction suggests a role in server-side or backend application development, where a GUI isn't required.
But Kawa's suite of project-management, editing, and debugging tools lets developers keep their hands in their code while building Java applications and applets. The package, a 32-bit Windows application that wraps around any version of Sun's JDK, also boasts a set of editing features lifted from Premia CodeWright along with new version-control enhancements, EJB support to encapsulate business logic in distributed applications, and a fast debugging engine. At 29 per seat, it's considerably more affordable than such high-end visual tools as Inprise JBuilder and Microsoft Visual J++.
For most developers, Kawa's biggest attractions are the newly integrated CodeWright features. Thanks to CodeWright, this version of Kawa offers easier source-code management, formatting tools, multiple clipboards, and a spelling checker.
I was especially impressed by the differencing and merge utilities, which can drastically reduce the time spent on analyzing code. With these tools, you can quickly sift through several sources and view identified differences side by side. You can make changes to your code from within the differencing window, or backtrack through previous versions of your documents.