In case it wasn't obvious, I've been doing some Java development lately. One of the curious things about doing development in the Java world is that, whereas in the Microsoft world you get a fairly complete tool-chain direct from a commercial vendor, in the Java world you're pretty much dependant on the open-source ecosystem built around the essential Java technologies: Sun defines the APIs, the community provides the tools. In many ways this is really really cool: many Java tools like JUnit are so absolutely groundbreaking that they found their way into the common development idiom irrespective of language, and the availability of tools for just about any purpose is a tremendous advantage (being able to choose freely between Resin, Jetty, Tomcat or any other commercial container, for instance, is a huge boon).
This diversity and community-centric development ecosystem definitely comes with a price though. Java tools, even the high-profile ones such as Eclipse, are extremely difficult to work with for the uninitiated, with a learning curve somewhat like that of Linux: if you take the time to learn the tools you can do astounding things and remain in complete control of the system, but the sheer context required to do even the most trivial thing can be - and often is - daunting.
I've been battling these tools on and off for the last few weeks and often end up having to figure something out on my own. Unlike the .NET ecosystem, it's usually quite difficult to find a blog post detailing a solution to a particular problem. To that end I intend to document my successes - victories, if you will - over the tool-chain, and also the problems I encounter and haven't been able to solve, in the hope of helping others and maybe myself in the process. These posts will go under the Development->Java category, and I'd really appreciate any comments on the solutions (so that I can improve my own work) as well as the problems (so I can actually solve them). Here's to hoping