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SpringSource Tool Suite Lets Java Programmers Tap Expertise On Errors

When problems are found in test code, the Tool Suite will consult a database of known problems and in some cases be able to recommend a solution.

SpringSource, supplier of the Spring Java development framework, is announcing the SpringSource Tool Suite, which lets Java developers quickly focus on a problem segment of code and use the Tool Suite's "consultant in a box" to help fix the problem.

SpringSource, formerly known as Interface 21, is the commercial company that supports the open source portfolio of the software associated with the Spring Framework, a lightweight Java development environment. It was founded by Rod Johnson, who is its CEO.

Java developers frequently test their programs by running them and are notified of runtime errors, prompting them to search through thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of lines of code, to find the errors. With the SpringSource Tool Suite, they will be able to zero in on problematic code, with the relevant lines highlighted in a different color, said Christian Dupuis, SpringSource lead engineer on the SpringSource Tool Suite, in an interview. By mousing over the segment, the Tool Suite will consult a database of known problems and in some cases be able to recommend a solution. The Tool Suite, announced Monday at the opening of the EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, makes use of an Eclipse programmer's workbench component, Mylyn, that makes the problem solving possible.

"It makes the developer's workday much simpler," said Mik Kersten, originator of the open source Mylyn tool and lead developer of the Mylyn project sponsored by the Eclipse Foundation. Kersten is also CEO of Tasktop, a company he formed based on Mylyn. Mylyn shows programmers "only what is relevant to the task at hand," he said.

While Mylyn is available in Eclipse open source distributions, only a few tools can make use of it. The adoption by SpringSource insures that Mylyn's problem identification and problem solving characteristics will fit into a major Java development platform. The Tool Suite includes the Spring core integrated development environment so developers may import their application code into it for troubleshooting.

SpringSource has established a community Wikipedia-type knowledge base of known design issues and problems in building Java applications. As a developer invokes the tool suite to help with his project, it consults the knowledge based and downloads pertinent information from other developers, along with best practices advice.

"We're trying to reduce the friction of people sharing knowledge on their Spring applications," said Dupuis.

SpringSource is making a beta "personal" version of the tool available for download this week. It expects it to be generally available in April. A commercial version with team developer features is expected to follow. Dupuis said SpringSource has joined the Eclipse Foundation, tying one of the fastest growing Java framework suppliers to a larger community of Java tool suppliers that adhere to the standards of the Eclipse programmer's workbench.

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