capsule review

CodeWarrior, Learning Edition

Targeted at academic markets, CodeWarrior Learning Edition offers the full CodeWarrior 4.0.6 programming environment for both Macintosh and Windows, with an added simplifying detail: installation on both platforms has been reduced to a few clicks. At $50, CodeWarrior Learning Edition is the lowest-cost professional-quality compiler ever released, which is great news for the Macintosh and for academic computer science classes.

What you get in this package is the CodeWarrior Integrated Development Environment (IDE), with support for C, C++, and Java, for the Mac and for Windows OS (Java code can also be targeted to Unix platforms). The documentation has been pared down to a slim pamphlet focused on installation, first steps, and two .pdf files: an introduction to the CodeWarrior environment for course instructors and a QuickStart for students. Realistically, with the Learning Edition you can expect to get most of your instructional help either in the classroom (it's oriented toward the Computer Sciences Advanced Placement), or from Metrowerks's own CodeWarrior University. CodeWarrior U. offers a particularly good introductory Java course, which is helpful since a majority of users are buying this product for Java rather than older programming languages. The complete, professional Java includes Metrowerks's useful Rapid Application Development Stationery for apps, applets, and Java beans (see "The Write Stuff"). Just note that before you start selling your Java applications on the Web, the installation agreement requires that users upgrade to the Professional Edition before going commercial.

The Write Stuff. Although much activity in CodeWarrior Learning Edition involves plain typing of code, simple applets can be put together quickly from the provided components.

The Learning Edition is designed specifically for academic use. If you want to buy it online from Metrowerks, you have to fax them a copy of your academic ID; if your dear old college days are behind you, your only option is to buy Learning Edition from a college bookstore. However, if you are not a student but want to learn programming, you may find that the $79, Mac-only Discover Programming Starter Kit better matches your needs. Like the Learning Edition, Discover Programming includes the C, C++, and Java compilers, but it also features a set of books on CD that are classic Mac programming introductions. Plus, nearly every typical beginning programming exercise in C++ or Java is available somewhere on the Discover Programming CD, allowing you to do a quick copy and paste instead of studying the program line by line. With Learning Edition, there are very few example files other than a handful of standard templates, so you can expect to type in textbook examples on your own.

As a last note, the Windows environment included on the Learning Edition CD is both compact and efficient, plus it's simpler to use than competing products from Microsoft. (The Windows OS programming environment is absent from Discover Programming.) Specifically, Metrowerks has been able to approach Java with enthusiasm, rather than perceiving it as a nebulous threat promoted by rivals, so the Learning Edition Java environment is a delight compared to J++.

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