I downloaded an interesting thing yesterday that I had meant to try before. It’s Out-of-the-Box 2.0, a piece of software designed to automatically install numerous pieces of open source Java development software on a Windows or Linux machine (I didn’t see any mention of OS X but I’d hope they are working on that as well).
They have both a free edition and a commercial one which differ primarily in the number of different pieces of software they can install (four times as much for the commercial one) and how many example projects they provide to demonstrate the different libraries and tools working together.
After having played with the free edition for a while I have to say that I’m impressed but with a big proviso. It works but it can be a little confusing. For example, when it says it has “installed” software like BCEL, JUnit, etc. and it’s not one of the primary pieces of software, they don’t mean installed in quite the same way that I would. To me, those things would be installed if all of their documentation and examples had been installed as well, not just the Jar file necessary to make their other projects run. But that’s exactly what they mean for most of what they class as mandatory. They are there in spirit but if you want to use something like BeanShell or the Bean Scripting Framework then you’ll need to acquire the download separately or go to their online documentation. I’d really like to see that change so that you could install all of the documentation for any of these libraries (maybe another checkbox column) and a set of links to the various important documents would show up on a “master documentation” page. Then I would have one place to go to for documentation on all of these things.
Even without that, they have apparently improved Out-of-the-Box a lot between versions 1.0 and 2.0 and I think it holds a lot of promise. I’m likely to pay a one month download fee (just a few bucks) so I can download the commercial version to try it out and post a review here.