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JNBridge Offers Java Coding in Visual Studio

JNBridge is soliciting developers to try out its upcoming Java.VS extension, which enables Java programming within Microsoft's flagship IDE.

The Java/.NET bridging specialist said the new extension -- targeting enterprise and other professional developers and teams -- is in an early access program, to which developers can apply to try out Java.VS, provide feedback to help shape the final product and in return get a price discount when it goes to GA.

"Java.VS supports all the Visual Studio IDE features that developers expect, including IntelliSense, auto-completion, error detection, debugging, compiling and building," the company said yesterday. "It also supports Visual Studio source code control tools. Like the other JNBridge products, Java.VS can be used to build solutions for any industry or application. Development teams currently using Visual Studio and all its Professional and Enterprise features can even use Java.VS to develop integrated software."

The tool provides a Java code editor, adds a Java project system to Visual Studio, leverages the VS build system and debugger interface and lets coders launch Java applications against any standard Java Runtime Environment (JRE).

The company secured a hearty endorsement of the product from noted developer, author and presenter Ted Neward, who said, "Now, to hear that JNBridge, the same folks that make one of the best Java/.NET integration tools I've ever used, is stepping into this void to create a plugin for Visual Studio that will let me live my Java life from within the Microsoft IDE, I'm giddy! I can't wait to get my hands on a build to give it a shot, and on a final copy that I can install onto my machine, if only to see the looks on peoples' faces at a Java conference when I fire up Visual Studio and start writing Java code."

That endorsement illustrates the dearth of existing extensions in the Visual Studio Marketplace that claim to provide Java support.

For example, a quick search finds Sam Hartwell's Java Language Support, with 149,615 installs. It provides "Basic support for the Java programming language." Its site says it "is not meant to replace a full IDE, but has certainly helped when I wanted to quickly reference a Java source file while working within Visual Studio."

For its part, Microsoft only provides the Java Language Service for Android and Eclipse Android Project Import, whose functionality is pretty much described by its name: "Java language service integration in Visual Studio for Android projects. Importer for Android projects from Eclipse. Requires the Visual C++ Cross-Platform Mobile Development extension and a 32-bit JDK."

There's also the Visual Studio Team Services | Java offering, working only with Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS) and Team Foundation Server (TFS).

Up to this point, developers who favor Microsoft's dev tooling are better off -- as logically follows -- with using the open source, cross-platform little cousin to VS, Visual Studio Code. For it, Java-support options include:

  • Language Support for Java by Red Hat, a preview which has been installed more than 1 million times. It "Provides Java language support via Eclipse JDT Language Server, which utilizes Eclipse JDT, M2Eclipse and Buildship."
  • Java Language Support from George Fraser, 184,681 installs. It "Provides Java support using the Java Compiler API. Requires that you have Java 8 installed on your system."

Many other extensions provide varying degrees and kinds of limited support for working with Java within Visual Studio, but none of the offerings come close to full range of functionality that Java.VS claims to provide.

To find out, interested developers can go here to apply for the early access program. The application includes many questions, and JNBridge noted that it reserves the right to select all participants based on its evaluation of the questionnaires.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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