Java Toolkit: Development And Monitoring Tools

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Mateusz Walczak

Dec 23, 2022 • 7 min read
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What are the best Java development and monitoring tools? From tackling code repositories to metrics, there are many to consider. Continue reading for our analysis.

Java is a programming language for coding Java web applications. It’s widely used by devs, QAs, and DevOps. Indeed, in 2022, Java’s the sixth most used language among developers. Trying to decide the best Java development tools varies according to the project, but some solutions offer certain advantages over others that are useful to be aware of.

In the first part of this series, we delved into application frameworks and code coverage tools for Java. Below, we explore an array of Java application monitoring tools spanning Java source code repositories, artifacts repositories, CI/CD orchestration, metrics, and Java application performance monitoring.

Repositories

What's a repository? Also known as a repo, it offers computer storage for software packages or data. Software repositories allow developers to locate and retrieve code or data in a secure environment. How? Using access control and authentication systems. Let’s dive into some examples.

Java code repository

A Java code repository is a central location to store Java application code. It maintains the integrity of components while multiple Java developers work on a project. There are the following three major players.

GitHub

At the top is GitHub, with its well-designed, high-availability interface focused on performance. Moreover, GitHub’s humongous community contributes to its popularity among developers. It’s the perfect choice for larger projects with multiple Java developers involved.

Repositories can be accessed from both Git and Subversion clients. It also provides integration with their in-house solution GitHub Actions, which takes care of CI/CD orchestration.

GitLab

GitLab is a worthy alternative with its centralized, integrated platform for Java developers. It uses Git as its version control system and also has a GitLab CI to take care of orchestration. GitLab comes in handy when a project setup requires you to install CI (continuous integration) on-prem.

Bitbucket

Bitbucket is a tool developed by Atlassian, so it has excellent integration with Jira and their other project management tools.

It also has built-in CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery or continuous deployment) pipelines and Bitbucket Cloud as the native Git tool in Atlassian’s Open DevOps solution. Bitbucket uses Git version control.

Artifacts repository

Whenever a Java application is built, it generates a jar artifact file. Depending on the configuration of the CI/CD, it creates one or more jar artifacts during the run, and has to be stored somewhere so it can be reused for future steps. Artifacts repositories are provided by one of the two solutions outlined below.

Sonatype Nexus Repository

Sonatype Nexus Repository is part of Sonartype products, and provides more than an artifacts repository, but in this case, that’s the core functionality worth using. It manages packages across CI/CD and scales according to needs.

Sonatype Nexus Repository also supports multiple ecosystems like Java with Maven, and is compatible with popular Java IDEs and CIs. Additionally, it’s good for on-prem installations.

JFrog Artifactory

JFrog Artifactory focuses on cloud infrastructure, with the possibility to install on-prem. Similar to the previous propositions, it allows integration with multiple CI/CD pipelines. JFrog Artifactory also provides support for all major storage cloud providers and has a modern, intuitive UI (user interface) to further enhance the experience.

CI/CD orchestration

Aside from the Java tools mentioned above in the Java code repository section that act as a CI/CD orchestrator (GitHub Actions, GitLab CI, Bitbucket Pipelines, and Deployments) there are also Java monitoring tools specifically designed for CI/CD.

CircleCI

CircleCI is a well-established tool specifically designed for cloud solutions. Its strongest point is orbs – reusable fragments of scripts provided by official contributors from companies that integrate with it or from communities that post them when official orbs aren’t available. CircleCI is highly scalable with an easy-to-understand and use web interface. For anyone using cloud infrastructure, it’s a tool worth considering. To further understand the possibilities it offers, I recommend going through CircleCI concepts and best practices.

Jenkins

Jenkins on the other hand is a self-contained Java-based program, ready to run out of the box. The setup is more time-consuming because of targeting on-prem infrastructures, but its customizability is astonishing, with multiple plugins to use that the enhance experience by providing integration with external tools.

Argo CD

Argo CD is a declarative lifecycle management tool that uses an agent to constantly monitor the end environment and check its status with Git. It can pull directly from repositories and deploy to Kubernetes. An advantage of Argo CD is it’s set up inside the cluster, which doesn’t require pushing changes, thus providing credentials to external tools.

Metrics

Software development metrics are characteristics that are quantifiable or countable. They help you measure performance, productivity, and plan work.

APM and logs

APM (application performance management) and logging should be part of every infrastructure, because they allow you to immediately see system failures, errors, and performance drops in a single place. Without them, analysis and debugging can take much longer. Top offerings include the following.

New Relic

New Relic is an infrastructure, Kubernetes, mobile, browser, and network monitoring tool with logs management. It works by installing the infrastructure agent next to the application it should include in its system. New Relic provides web UI and the possibility to integrate with project management services.

AppDynamics

AppDynamics offers cloud-native monitoring, including serverless, Kubernetes, Docker, SAP, and Cisco UCCE (unified contact center enterprise). Its advantages include real user monitoring, powerful alerting, deep insights into processes, and visibility to project stakeholders.

Datadog

Datadog is used to troubleshoot, optimize Java application performance monitoring, analyze log data in context, and for trace web requests. It has hundreds of built-in integrations with numerous providers.

Dynatrace

Dynatrace is an application and infrastructure offering with an AI-powered data platform. It supports hundreds of cloud platforms and solutions and enhances tracking, performing automation, and the analysis of big data.

Users can also integrate Dynatrace into their IT landscape using an open API, and it’s available as an on-prem tool or via a SaaS (software-as-a-service) provider.

Java application performance monitoring

When a Java application is developed, it’s important to measure resource usage and general performance. To do that, one tool is ahead of the competition: VisualVM

This is a visual resource integrating command line JDK tools and lightweight profiling capabilities. It’s designed for development and production and allows the discovery of unexpectedly high memory usage or thread usage while running on JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and more. You can use VisualVM to monitor both local and remote resources.

Recommended Java development and monitoring tools

The Java performance monitoring tools you choose depend on the application or product in question. In terms of Java code repositories, we suggest GitHub. For artifacts repositories, we recommend JFrog Artifactory, for CI/CD orchestration, consider CircleCI, and for APM and logs, we’re drawn to New Relic.

Last but not least, when it comes to Java development tools for application performance, VisualVM is way ahead of the curve. What we’ve outlined is easy to set up and has a clear interface. Moreover, CircleCI integrates well with GitHub and JFrog Artifactory.

This article summarizes some of the best Java tools; the ones you opt for may well change, depending on the project. If you struggle to choose the best ones, reach out to us.

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Mateusz Walczak

Senior Java Developer at Netguru
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