ake Visual Café Database Edition. This product is now defunct.
Symantec’s Java development package that includes a compiler, editor, debugger,
dbAnywhere and Sybase SQL (Standard Query Language). It is the same code as
Visual Café Database Pro Edition, but with a few additions. Unfortunately it
use the same extension *.vpj as SlickEdit for its project files.
Visual Café started out at Symantec. Then Symantec sold it to Webgain. Webgain went belly up and sold it to TogetherSoft. Then TogetherSoft sold it to Borland. Borland seem to have dropped
it entirely. They appear to have bought it just to kill any possible competition with JBuilder. Your best bet now to get a copy of Visual Café would be look on eBay.
Here are some hints on using Visual Café Database Development Edition. The
online help documentation is out of date and downright erroneous. Much of this
material will also apply to Visual Café, Visual Café Pro edition and
Visual Café 1.0.
I suggest you read the BeanInfo, BeanBox, Jar File,
Manifest and JavaBean entries in the Java & Internet Glossary. Symantec just
crashes if you try to add a bean with anything in the least the matter with it. You
must test them first with the Sun BeanBox. The Symantec Jar file create is hopeless.
I suggest you prepare a manifest file manually and use Oracle’s Jar.exe to create
your jar file. It is quite easy to whip up a BeanInfo class for each bean, even if
your only intent is to provide an icon. You can then add the entire jar at once to
the component library. Make sure the jar file in on the CLASSPATH in SC.INI.
Installing a JavaBean Component In the Library
Visual Cafe has a two step
process to get a bean ready for use on the component toolbar:
Both the library and the toolbar have groups. They need not have the same naming
structure. Not all components in the library need be on the toolbar.
- You must add it from a class file to the library.
- You must add it to the toolbar from the library.
The tools for adding and deleting components and groups from the library and
toolbar are chaotic. I am being charitable. But worse, they are improperly
documented. Here is how you actually do these procedures.
When you add a new bean, VCP (Visual Cafe Pro) will create an object of that
bean type and exercise its methods. If they are not up to snuff, you will get a
blanket rejection, no explanation of the precise problem, or if you less lucky, VCP
will crash. It will continue crashing every time you bring it up. To get out of this,
you must start VCP by clicking on some *.java file to invoke VCP, so it won’t
start the last project it was working on. This seems to clear its little brain.
Sometimes you can clear problems when the bean implementation code has changed by
clicking on an OBJECT of that type in the project window.
- To add a group to the library, according to help, you are
supposed to click Insert Group. This is always grayed out so I don’t think
this is possible. (That button gives the impression it means adding a whole group
of components to the project so this menu item shoud properly be labelled
Insert Group in Library). However, I discovered that you could add a group
in the Library by clicking Window, Component Library, right click, add group. Then
you left click twice slowly! — not double click, on the new
folder group created and rename it.Intuitive user
- To remove a group from the library, click Window, Component
library. Click on the offending group. Hit DEL. This will rename it to nothing.
Click away from the group. Click back and hit DEL again. This will finally kill it.
There is no right click delete/rename support.I bet it would take you more than 5
minutes to discover that by trial and error!
- If your component as any inner or anonymous classes, you will need to put your
component and its dependent files in a JAR file first, then add the entire JAR
file. I still can’t get this to work. The components you add refused to be
deleted because they are default. I know this sounds
totally nuts, but just add the jar file again, then delete them and they will all
come out if you try to delete even one of them.
- To add a component to the library you click Insert Component
into library and select the class file, then select the group. Oddly, you
can’t do this from the component library window. Further, seems to work best
if you have the component libary window closed. It refuses to add some components
sometimes. It just whirrs away for about 10 seconds, then acts as if I had never
given the add component command. I have not yet figured out the circumstance. It
gives no error message. This may be pigeon superstition, but I can sometimes get it
to work by adding the component and anything it uses to the current project,
rebuilding the project and restarting VCP.
- To remove a component from the library, you must click Window,
Component library, then select the component, then hit DEL. Unfortunately, clicking
the right mouse button does not offer a delete.
Installing a JavaBean Component On The Toolbar
First you must install your
JavaBean components by the process above. Then you can add them to the toolbar:
These clickings are far from obvious. You can spend a long time searching those
menus until you stumble on these magic combinations.
- Click Tools, Environment Options, Component Palette.
- To add a component to the toolbar, select a component in the
library on the left to add to the toolbar, click a palette group
on the right to add it to and then click ADD.
- To remove a component from the toolbar, select a component to
remove from the toolbar on the right and click REMOVE.
- To add a new group to the toolbar, click New Group.
- To remove a group from the toolbar, highlight the group name
on the right,and click REMOVE.
- Unfortunately, you can’t add or remove groups or components from the
library using this screen. You can only affect the toolbar.
- You can drag and drop groups and components of the toolbar to reorder
- Be careful. It is very easy to highlight on the left and click REMOVE and then
something on the right will disappear.
How JavaBean Installs Should Work
How should this work? If I were in charge
at Symantec, I would simplify the whole business like this:
Your component library and toolbar are more integrated. Each component can be
marked visible or invisible — which determines whether it shows up on the
toolbar. If a group contains nothing but invisible components, that group does not
show up on the toolbar.
You start the process off by clicking on the Window Component Library, or right
clicking on the component toolbar and selecting edit palette.. You see the component
library with groups that can be +/- expanded/-collapsed to see the components.
Components are colour coded to indicate visible-invisible.
You right click on any component:
You right click on any group:
- add component
- delete component
- v on toolbar (the v represents a check toggling check mark)
- browse component (if available)
- view source (if available)
When you add a bean, it would be nice if you could select a toolbar icon for
your Bean without having to manually write a BeanInfo class. Alternatively, it would
nice if there were a wizard for generating a simple BeanInfo class — e.g. that
selected an icon and perhaps let you hide some of the methods, giving you
effectively a public and published scope.
- add group
- delete group
- rename group
- add component
Attempting to Create A Jar file With the IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
create JAR file function has numerous problems:
Fortunately Symantec has recognized the problem and has totally rewritten the
Jar create function. The new code will be in the next update.
- The waiting cursor stays on indefinitely when you click JAR.
- You can’t just accept the offered filename or type your own name for the
created JAR file, you must click the… and select the filename that way.
- After you select the file, you must wait fifteen seconds or so while it looks
for files likely to go in your jar. It gives you no indication it is busy other
than the more icon is grayed out.
- When you add a dependency, the display does not change to reflect that change.
You have to select an unrelated item.
- Every time you add a file it forgets the directory you last picked up a file
- It will not let you add more than one dependency. (What do you do with a bean
with two inner anonymous classes?)
- I’m not totally sure of this, but it seems that once you remove a file,
you can’t add it back. Under some conditions, add refuses to do
- It is not clear from the documentation that dependent classes are also supposed
to be represented at the outer level. You can’t select a dependent class that
is not already added as a class in its own right at the top level.
- I would like a bit more explanation of just what dependencies are. I would
think it means that class A uses the dependent classes B and C, or gifs d and e.
Then a class B might be a dependent of several classes. Since this information is
already encoded in the class files themselves, what is this FOR?
Creating A Jar file with JAR.EXE
Be in the directory one closer to the root
than your source files (which might be the root if your package name is
D:\vcp\java\bin\jar.exe cfvm myjar.jar manifest.mf myDir
Where myjar.jar is the desired name of the jar file,
myDir is where your class files are and MANIFEST.MF is the name of your manually prepared manifest file. See
manifest in the Java & Internet
Glossary for more details about its format. Jar.exe will recurse directories and
embed the myDir directory name in the archive.
Don’t for get the f option and don’t put any spaces between the
option letters or your screen will receive the unintelligible binary output.
Then use WinZip to prune the junk out you don’t want. Unfortunately it
won’t clean up the MANIFEST.MF file for you. Jar.exe does not seem to
understand wildcards. WinZip tends to put too much directory information in the jar
file if you try to build it with WinZip directly.
You can then add more files like
D:\vcp\java\bin\jar.exe fv myjar.jar myDir\myDir2\myClass1.class
Here are some bugs I have found in Visual
Café that are giving me grief:
- If you accidentally leave off the trailing } on a method when you edit using
the class browser, Visual Cafe Pro will crash when you leave editing that
- Always put each project in a separate directory. Otherwise, there are bound to
be name conflicts and you will overwrite your old source.The application generator
wizards are quite happy to write over existing projects without even a warning
- After you manually edit source generated by the forms designer or property
editor, don’t use the forms designer or property editor again. The only
source code changes that appear to be safe are property values. Don’t
manually add components, or change their type. Make sure any component types you
are editing are in the library. The tool does not seem to work at all well if you
make any changes to the library components, e.g. add, remove, or rename properties.
Make sure you have a backup before using the forms designer. It can make some very
severe unwanted changes to your code like converting all your custom components
back into TextFields and throwing out all calls to set the properties of your
- Sometimes you add a method or constructor to a class, then the compiler
complains when you try to use it in some other class. REBUILD ALL seems to clear
its pea brain.
- When you create a jar file, you should create it in the same directory where
the components you are adding to it live. The jar create command in VCP is very
primitive. Once you create a jar it is sealed, from the point of view of VCP. You
have to manually edit the MANIFEST.MF file, add, freshen, etc. thereafter. Run time
cannot see a jar file unless it is mentioned, fully qualified in the CLASSPATH (sc.ini).
- One the ways to crash Visual Café is to rename a *.java file in the
current project and then fire VCP up again. VCP will go looking for that file and
will offer you a file open dialog to go find it. Since the file does not exist
anymore, you click cancel. Down goes VCP. However, if you humour it and give it
the wrong file, e.g. the renamed file, which it will
reject, then later hit cancel, you are able to recover and remove the file from the
project and replace it with the new name.
- If you change the code for a component. You must delete the component from the
library, reinstall it into the component library. Delete the old components from
your frames. Exit and restart Visual Cafe. Insert the new components back into your