Top Ten Truly Obscure But Useful Java Projects – Circa 2004

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John Munsch writes about his “Top 10 Obscure Java Projects“. Unfortunately, I’m sad to say, I’m a bit disappointed. For the life of me, I can’t fantom the thought that DisplayTag, Batik, Anthill, Lucene, BSF, Velocity, Picoconatainer, Prevayler and Apache XML-RPC are obscure. The mere fact that most of them are Apache projects should indicate their lack of obscurity. Unless you have a mind set that anything outside standard Java APIs is obscure, then you can make the case. Otherwise, it’s like someone just came out of the jungle all these years and proclaimed that World War II was over!

Well anyway, the consolation is that it’s a good thought. What 10 obscure but useful Java projects should the world know about? Well here’s my stab at that question.

  1. Joda Time – Finally a respectable replacement for the Java date and time classes. Hope this relieves you from working with the unbelievably cumbersome Calendar class.
  2. Noodle – The perfect Java project is one that lets you write less Java code. So use this when it’s just not worth it to rewrite legacy Web sites in Java.
  3. VMTools – Knowing what’s changed is critical if you want to handle optimistic locking. Now if only they could give a proper name for the project.
  4. mec-eagle – You can’t always avoid having to process legacy messaging formats like EDI. Of course, you’ve got to hand it to the Germans for being so concise at naming their projects.
  5. Mondrian – Slice and dice data like there’s no tomorrow.
  6. Multivalent – The most comprehensive collection of PDF manipulation tools that nobody has ever heard of. It just takes a while to sink in that if you can display PDF then you can surely manipulate it.
  7. Hipergate – Surprisingly comprehensive CRM application, could give Salesforce.com the jitters. Unfortunately, it took them a while to translate from Spanish.
  8. JTextCheck – Comprehensive Java API to support all kinds of text checking functionality. Includes spell checking, dictionaries, thesaurus and hyphenation checking.
  9. XBIS – Having a problem with extremely bloated XML files? Supercedes XMLS, if you recall that project.
  10. Directory Poller – How often do you have to rewrite this functionality before you realize that it has already been done?

There’s a whole lot more other projects out there that don’t get the air-time that they truly deserve. Hope this list gives you a glimpse of what you may have easily overlooked. Note: This article was published back in 2004, it’s been updated because one of the links was pointing to an inappropriate web site.


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