It looks like the purchase of NitroX was one of the smartest things BEA did in the recent past. Today I spent some time on evaluating its Workshop Studio and I am glad to say that all these problems that were (fortunately) preventing us from moving to the previous version of Workshop are now seemingly in the past.
To start, it’s no longer a black box environment that is doing something for you, doing it great but you have almost no access to what gets generated and you are simply a hostage of this product.
Now everything is based on widely known Open Sores (oops! Slip of the tongue, Open Source) projects: Spring, Hibernate, Struts and seem to head in the same direction as we are moving to. All generated files are the same as we have now, it only augments the process, speeds it up and does lots of consistency verification. And all this without the danger of vendor lock!
These are two very simple short videos that nicely depict how Workshop can speed up the process of creating the domain object layer http://dev2dev.bea.com/downloads/HibernateDemo/HibernateDemo.html and process of Struts/JSP development http://dev2dev.bea.com/downloads/StrutsDemo/StrutsDemo.html .
Speaking of the latter I was amazed how much time could be saved on the process of working with application resource files. Now each change is the resource file requires restarting the server, re-login and re-navigation to the page under development. The Workshop IDE allows visualization of this change in Eclipse environment with no such hassle.
Hibernate mapping is also amazing – we have hundreds of tables that need to be “Hibernated” and without a visual tool it becomes so tedious that almost even defeats the purpose of having Hibernate as a development process performance booster.
Oh, and it was awarded as the Best commercial Eclipse based developer tool at the EclipseCon 2006: http://www.eclipse.org/org/foundation/eclipseawards/winners.php
Seems to me like a good choice.