Google contributes GUI designer tool to Eclipse!

Wow, perfect timing for our Lotusphere presentation. You can download the tool right from Google or you can read about the functionality it brings.

Tools being donated include the WindowBuilder Java UI design tool as well as CodePro Profiler, a runtime Java analysis gauging factors like memory leaks. Both tools became Google property when the company bought Instantiations in August; they will now become open source projects at Eclipse. WindowBuilder has been used for development related to Standard Widget Toolkit, GWT (Google Web Toolkit), and Swing.

Check out the full article on InfoWorld.

Lotus Sandbox on Banana’s

I have been asked a few times where one can get the Composite Application Debug tools.  They use to be available on the Lotus Sandbox which has been taken down but can now be accessed on Peter’s “Banana’s” site here.  The tool includes the Property Broker Monitor and the Topology Peek tool.

Property Broker Monitor:
This tool is used for run time analysis of the property broker registry and events happening in the broker. The different tabs are dynamic and represent real-time events and data. They will all change as the environment changes around it. You can accomplish the following with the tool:

  • Use the Console tab to see the different events happening in the broker.
  • The Current Page tab shows the components on the current page. It shows the actions and parameters for each of the components.
  • The Active Actions tab shows all active registered actions currently in the broker.
  • Active Wires tab shows all of the currently enabled wires in the broker.
  • Trace Properties with additional logging.

Topology Peek:
This tool is used to see what the internal topology cache for the installed composite application looks like. It shows in a UI what is currently present in the cache. In general, if it is not in the Topology Peek it is not in the cached presentation of the application. This can assist in what the applications consists of on the client and should be refreshed when CA XML and definitions change on the fly.

Kids writing games with XNA

Bradley Jones has two great articles for programming XNA (XBox games).  I really like XNA and played with it for quite a while.  I think it is the perfect tool set and framework to get into game programming.  The framework hides a lot of the dirty details with video, sound, and synchronization but also allows you to really dig into the concepts at a fairly low level.  Check out these two articles and when you mix the tooling with other freely available tools like GIMP, Blender, Audacity, and ImageMagick.

Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 and XNA Game Studio

Moving Items with Microsoft Visual Studio, XNA Game Studio and A GamePad

My favorite open source and free tools for software development

It seems this list gets more interesting each year and this year I made a pretty big change in my “favorites”.  The reason I love this list is because anyone, even kids, can start to learn programming or software for free.  This includes business programming, graphics, office automation, game programming, web development, etc.  I wish I had these kinds of tools 20 years ago.

Eclipse and Java

At the top of the list has to be Eclipse, I solely use it for 99% of my development – even looking at and editing native code for Notes and Domino.  It is by far my most useful tool for all kinds of software editing.  Granted I use it mostly for Java development but with the many projects you can install into it you can pretty much do any kind of development.  Eclipse is also the base platform under many commercial products like Lotus Notes, Lotus Expdeditor, Lotus Symphony, and Lotus Sametime.


This web browser should arguably be at the top of the list.  I use it every single day on all of my computers.  I think its the best browser out there and of course it is free!  It has a ton of plugin support and is a very fast and reliable web browser.  I could probably write an post about my favorite plugins just for this great piece of software.

Lotus Symphony and Open Office

At the start of 2009 I started using Lotus Symphony solely for all of my work at IBM instead of Microsoft Office.  I still use Open Office at home on my machine and for my kids.  They use it for all homework and other little projects.  In short, both of these are great tools and in my mind a must have for all people and businesses.  They can do more than the 80% of what most people need in an office suite, I would say it is well above 90% at this point.  So if you are paying for an office suite like Microsoft Office then you are most likely wasting your money.

Graphics editing – GIMP

By far the most popular graphics editing tool on the open market is GIMP.  It is arguably “better” than PhotoShop and for the price it is unparalleled.  I use to use Paint Shop Pro and Microsofts Image Composer for the longest time but some time last year I started using GIMP exclusively for graphics and screen mockups.  I still have Image Composer installed and have used it a few times but I think I will be uninstalling it shortly.

Remote Desktop – TightVNC

I do use the built in Microsoft Remote Desktop software a lot but many times I use TightVNC to share between developers or take control of a customers machine.  This is by far the best open source remote desktop software.

The play list:

Other tools on my list but I don’t necessarily use daily.  I play around a lot and learn from many of these.  Either way, these are great things to share and pass on to people who have interest in software development.

MySQL – 100% free and open source database.  I actually use this on for a few things but that is about it.  You can obviously use it for any relational task.

ImageMagick great tool where you can convert images between formats using scripts or your language of choice.  If you want to write graphics applications this library will be key for you.

Audacity – this is an awesome tool for editing audio files.  I actually used this to create ring tones for my old windows mobile phone.  This application also has a lot of plugins available to extend its capabilities.

Blender – want to write computer games or become a graphics artist for games and movies?  Start with Blender, its an awesome application that will teach you all of the basics.

Unreal Development Kit – I just started playing with this again this past year.  This is arguably one of the best game engines on the market.  Many 3D based games use this engine.  It comes with a world editor, a script language, and libraries to bind with.  You can pretty much create amazing games and animations with this free kit.

If you are really interested in free software you can check out “Best Open Source Software” page, it has a lot of software categorized for easy browsing.

Great tools for an Eclipse runtime

If you really want to get to know the Eclipse platform then these tools are for you.  The Preference Explorer and the Extension Explorer give you a good picture for how the system is configured.  You get a list of all the defined extensions in the Eclipse system – great for debugging.  You can also see all of the Eclipse preference store and what values and preferences the different plug-ins use.  This doesn’t mean any of this is really “public” information or documented by the component owners but it is a good way to see how other developers use extensions and preferences and what ones are available.

You also get the Property Broker Monitor and Topology Peek tools for assisting in debugging your composite applications and components.

You can download the tools from this wiki entry; which has a link to the GreenHouse place where the download lives.