Association of Information Technology Professionals
National Collegiate Conference
Annual Java Programming Competition Event
This resource page contains the issues under consideration
for the AITP NCC Java competition event computer lab workstation environment.
The annual AITP NCC Java Competition Event computer lab workstation environment
must be redefined each year to reflect the latest trends in the Java community.
This resource page has been implemented to assist in the selection of
contest environmental components by serving as an open forum in which
Java contest event staff, student contestants, faculty, and industry can
jointly provide feedback on the workstation environment. Comments, feedback,
and suggestions may be made here.
to Contest Environment
Educational institutions have limited budgets and staff experience which
may limit the availability of notebook computers and Java development
tools that are available to the student contestants.
Student contestants may not have the technical skills that are required
to install and configure more advanced development tools and environment
Student contestants may not have the time or opportunity required to
learn and master a sufficient level of competence with a complex Java
The Java Competition Event environment should be fair for all students
by avoiding the use of complex or expensive development tools that may
not be available to all educational institutions or easily available to
the students in the event that their school does not use a particular
The Java Competition Event environment components should be easily obtainable
by both educational institutions and students. Costs should be free or
subsidized by academic purchase programs whenever possible. Environment
components should be available via Internet download.
Student contestants should be able to easily master the basic skills
required to productively use Java contest environment components and development
tools. The learning curve should require no more than one day, assuming
that the student has completed the recommended Java curriculum in preparation
for the AITP NCC Java Competition Event.
In the event that a student contestant's educational institution does
not use a particular environment component, the student contestant should
be able to obtain the component by using the Internet. The component should
be easy to install and configure, assuming that the student has completed
the recommended Java curriculum in preparation for the AITP NCC Java Competition
Issues Under Consideration
Comments and Feedback
| There has been discussion over having the student contestants
provide their own computer in the form of a notebook system or using
computers provided by the host educational institution. There have
also been discussions with corporate sponsors to provide computers
for use in the annual contests. An important issue is making sure
that all of the teams have a fair chance at competing in the contest.
In the event of a computer malfunction, it is easier to move the team
to another computer if the environment is the same. There is also
the issue that a computer can be configured with more advanced tools
and libraries providing a unique advantage to a particular team. By
using a standard computer configuration and environment, all of the
teams are equal. For this reason, the Java competition event has made
the choice to use computers supplied by the NCC Competition Event.
Intel based PC with floppy drive and CD-ROM
Computer systems are supplied by the NCC Contest Event.
Educational institutions teaching Management Information Systems
(MIS) curriculums tend to emphasize a Microsoft Windows platform
while Computer Science (CS) curriculums tend to emphasize a Unix/Linux
platform. Linux is fast becoming the platform of choice with many
companies and MIS curriculums will need to begin emphasizing Linux
in their curriculum offerings. Currently, few schools teach Linux
in their MIS programs, which makes it difficult for students to
compete in a Linux environment. The Java Competition Event has chosen
to use a Microsoft Windows platform since the student contestants
are typically more familiar with it.
Productivity Suites such as MS Office, Sun StarOffice, and WordPerfect
Office are essential. The ability to run StarOffice and WordPerfect
on Linux platforms is allowing individuals and organizations the
opportunity to configure their personal computers with both an operating
system and productivity suite for free. This is becoming an important
issue in response to Microsoft's cyclic product release process
and new volume licensing plans. Additionally, few viri and macroviri
infect Linux systems, providing additional security. Needles to
say, the Java platform is available for both MS Windows and Linux.
Microsoft Windows NT/2000/XP
Microsoft's latest Windows offering is Windows XP; however, many
educational institutions are still using Windows NT and Windows
2000. Microsoft's latest plans for volume licensing are also driving
many organizations' interest towards Linux.
The latest versions of Linux are easy to install onto a personal
computer (PC) and have a graphical user interface (GUI) that is
very close to the Windows look-and-feel. Red Hat Linux in particular
is very easy to install and use. There is an emerging trend in many
large organizations to increasingly adopt Linux over MS Windows.
Red Hat Linux
Debian GNU Linux
The Java Competition Event always uses a database in each problem
statement. A student graduating with a degree in Information Systems
(IS) should have a working knowledge of relational databases - including
basic SQL syntax. The most important element is that the student
contestants know JDBC-ODBC connectivity and basic SQL syntax. If
cost is a concern, Sun StarOffice or MySQL are good products that
are available for free; however, MySQL does not support referential
integrity with respect to foreign keys. In an Object-Oriented paradigm,
where objects take care of their data, this is not necessarily a
problem. From the perspective of the Java Competition Event, a database
that supports JDBC-ODBC connectivity will be used in each contest
event. Contest databases will use integer auto-numbering primary
keys. All of the Java Competition Event problem statements are designed
to work with the databases listed below.
Currently, all of the Java Competition Event problem statements
are developed and tested using MS Office, MS Access, StarOffice
Base, and MySQL.
Microsoft Access 2000/2002/XP (With Microsoft Office Professional)
Most educational institutions already have MS Access installed so
past Java contests have used it. Additionally, most students are
already familiar with it.
Sun StarOffice 5.2 (StarOffice Base)
StarOffice is file compatible with MS Office and is becoming very
popular in educational and large business organizations where Linux
is making significant inroads. Microsoft's new volume licensing
has created a huge demand for StarOffice in Europe, Asia, and Latin
America, where it is replacing MS Office on many Windows platforms.
Microsoft is still popular in North America education institutions
primarily due to the educational pricing.
MySQL 1.3 for Windows
MySQL is easy to install and configure on Windows platforms. If
student contestants need an easy to use database to practice with,
MySQL provides an excellent solution.
Paradox 9 (With WordPerfect Office 2000 Professional)
|The Java Competition Event uses the Sun version of Java
to minimize compatibility issues between vendors. Any knowledge and
skill-based competency in Java should be based on the native Java
Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition
The latest version of Java can be downloaded, installed, and used
for free over the Internet by clicking on the link above.
The Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is the most discussed
issue for the Java Competition Event. Educational institutions vary
in their selection and use of IDE's. Selecting an IDE that is complex
and expensive to use can place some student contestants at a disadvantage.
Additionally, the Java Competition Event is designed to test Java
programming skills, not how fancy a team can build their GUI. The
past Java contests used Kawa since it had built in CodeWright support
and was available to students and education institutions at a significant
discount (the full commercial product was also low-cost). Unfortunately,
Macromedia (Allaire) has discontinued further development and support
The Java Competition Event is still exploring
the specific Java IDE to use.
Two likely Java IDE candidates have been identified:
TextPad and NetBeans.
Currently, TextPad has been tentatively
Persons interested in submitting comments, feedback, and suggestions
are invited to do so here.
TextPad is a low-cost (USD $27) editor with Java support. This product
is very easy to install and learn. TextPad can be downloaded via
the Internet for free on a try-before-you-buy basis. TextPad supports
the Java coding style and supports line numbering on printouts.
Java classes can be compiled and run from within TextPad.
This open source IDE offered by Sun can be downloaded via the Internet
for free. Support is provided through the NetBeans open source community.
GNU Emacs provides Java support, as well as support for a number
of additional programming and scripting languages. Emacs has been
traditionally popular on UNIX/Linux platforms and is now available
for Windows. GNU Emacs is available for free.
In the 2000 and 2001 contest, Kawa was used as the IDE. Kawa provided
built in CodeWright support and has been discontinued by Allaire.
CodeWright is more expensive than Kawa (USD $249+). CodeWright is
a very powerful IDE. Information on educational pricing is not currently
While many schools use JBuilder and educational discounts are available
to students and educational institutions, JBuilder is complex and
requires time to learn. The steeper learning curve, user interface
design capabilities, and lack of universal acceptance by educational
institutions were reasons for not using JBuilder in the Java contest.
JBuilder is a very good Java IDE.
Forte for Java
This commercial IDE offered by Sun can be downloaded as a free trial
version for 60 days. Full licensing pricing is fairly steep. Forte
for Java is based on the open source NetBeans IDE. Forte for Java
comes with full support from Sun.
IBM WebSphere Studio Application Developer
Studio Application Developer is optimized for IBM WebSphere. The
product is complex and requires time to learn. Education pricing
for educational institutions is available. WebSphere is too complex
for the target audience of first semester Java student contestants.
IBM VisualAge for Java
VisualAge for Java provides UML modeling for WebSphere and Studio
Application Developer. Education pricing for educational institutions
TogetherSoft Together Control Center
TogetherJ was used to provide the UML model and documentation used
in the 2000 and 2001 Java Competition Events. TogetherSoft has replaced
TogtherJ with Toghether Control Center. Education pricing for educational
institutions is available.
Please post your public comments on the AITP Student Forum:
Comments to the AITP NCC Java Competition Event Coordinator
may be e-mailed to:
Last Updated: SUN 30 DEC 2001
to Contest Environment