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ONJava 2004 in Review: Popular Articles

by Chris Adamson

As we race to the end of another year, it seems well worth our time to consider the developments in the Java realm in 2004. The biggest development of the year was, of course, the release of J2SE 5.0, which ushered in the most significant changes in Java programming in years. We've tried to cover 5.0 in both the big picture, with book excerpts on the major new features, and in the unique niches that developers are turning up by combining generics, attributes, and other new features.

Another story this year has been the runaway success of Hibernate and the Eclipse IDE. The results of our early-2004 survey showed 62 percent of readers using Eclipse and 29 using Hibernate, and it's entirely possible those numbers will go up when we compile the results of our latest survey. Both of these have been extensively covered on ONJava, and are slated to get more, and more advanced, coverage in 2005.

This article is the first of two year-ender summaries of the best of ONJava in 2004. This week, I'll be featuring some of the most popular articles from 2004, and next week, I'll have some "Editor's Choice" articles that deserve a second look.

Now That's What I Call Java!

Figuring out the most popular articles from 2004 is not straightforward, since hits will tend to go down after an article has been on the site for a while. If you just count "hits this week," you'll tend to discount older articles, and if you just count "all hits since publication," you'll bias towards older articles, which have had time to accumulate hits. So this collection of popular articles is somewhat subjective, balancing both recent and all-time statistics and considering the article's age.

Hibernate is Hot

One of our most popular articles is the first one we ran on Hibernate, Davor Cengija's "Hibernate Your Data." In it, he showed how to download and configure Hibernate, set up an object-relational mapping, and then use Hibernate to store, retrieve, delete, and update items in the database, all with a pleasant Java API and no SQL.

Combining two hot topics, James Elliott showed how to get started "Working with Hibernate in Eclipse," using the Hibernate Synchronizer, which provides code-completion, a graphical presentation of your object-relational mappings, wizard interfaces for creating new elements, and more. Elliott, the author of O'Reillly's Hibernate: A Developer's Notebook, says, "Of the plugins I've found so far, the Hibernate Synchronizer interested me most because it seems to best support the kind of mapping-centric workflow I adopted throughout my Developer's Notebook."

Doing More in Eclipse

"Using JUnit With Eclipse IDE" exposed another popular technique to Eclipse: test-driven development (TDD) with JUnit. In this article, Alexander and Olexiy Prohorenko showed how to configure Eclipse to work with JUnit and how to set up tests that you can run from within Eclipse.

Working the Web

Of course, Java is most popular for developing web applications, so it's no surprise that web app articles should be among the most popular in 2004. In "What's New in Tomcat 5," Jason Brittain, author of Tomcat: The Definitive Guide, kicked off 2004 with a survey of the major advances in the popular application server, including support for the Servlet 2.4 and JSP 2.0 specifications, unification of forked Tomcat branches, performance improvements, and more.

In "Wiring Your Web Application with Open Source Java," Mark Eagle addressed the issue of working with several disparate frameworks: "Frameworks generally address one problem well. However, your application will have several layers that might require their own framework. Just solving your UI problem does not mean that you should couple your business logic and persistence logic into a UI component." The solution, as he illustrates with an example based on Struts, Spring, and Hibernate, is to loosely couple the layers of your web application, wiring them up so that you don't introduce dependencies between the layers. Among other things, this gives you the freedom to move to a different framework in the future.

Watch the Clock

Many applications need to perform periodic tasks, such as logging, backup, report generation, etc. In "Job Scheduling in Java," Dejan Bosanac offered two approaches that differed in sophistication and capability. One option is to use java.util.Timer from the core JDK; the other is Quartz, which introduces such advantages as job persistence, cron-like scheduling, job organization, and more.

More from 2004

Those were some of the most popular ONJava articles from 2004. I hope you'll check back next week for the "Editor's Choice" collection of noteworthy pieces published this year.

Chris Adamson is an author, editor, and developer specializing in iPhone and Mac.

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