A big part of this course is integrating state-of-the-art software engineering tools into your development process. The tools listed on this page are the core recommended tools for the first assignment as well as for your projects.

Index of this page

  1. Java basic reference information
  2. IDE's including Eclipse and IntelliJ
  3. git (which now has its own page, here)
  4. Maven for building Java projects
  5. Unit Testing
  6. SparkJava lightweight pure Java web server
  7. Database possibilities
  8. JavaScript recommendations
  9. TravisCI continuous build tool
  10. Docker for reliable, platform-independent builds in a sandbox
  11. Deployment options to get your app running in the real world
  12. Diagramming tools for UML and mocking UIs


The official Java platform for the course is the Oracle Java SE. We require Java 8 as it has several new features you will want to use. Download the SE from Oracle.

Java Documentation and Resources

The Java Standard Edition (SE) API & Documentation home
This is the main Oracle page for Java SE docs.
The Java 8 API docs
this page documents every method in every class in the core API.
The Java Tutorial
Oracle's on-line Java tutorial. There are trails for both basic and advanced topics.

Editors / Integrated Development Environments

If you are not using a modern editor or IDE this course can be a good opportunity to pick one of them up.


Eclipse used to be the best Java IDE but its now a bit bloated. Download link. The Simple Java Application tutorial from the Tutorials on the welcome screen is a good start point, and the built-in Help menu is useful for learning more.


If you are doing Android programming this is the required choice for you - Android Studio is an extension of IntelliJ. See the Android page for information on getting that version of IntelliJ. For non-Android use here is the Download and Tutorials and documentation.


This Github-sponsored editor is getting more popular; you need to use the command-line for building, debugging, etc. Download link.


The modern lightweight editor that Atom ripped off. Download link.

git and Github

The course git information now has its own page in the menu under Resources.


Maven has become a standard for building Java projects - its make for Java combined with Ruby's gems for automatic project configuration. It can build, test, run, deploy, generate documentation, and more. If you have a Java project you need to use Maven (or Gradle, a similar build tool).

  • A brief introduction to Maven
  • Maven Homepage for documentation, tutorials, etc.
  • Maven project support is now built in to both Eclipse and IntelliJ (make sure you have a recent version), so no explicit install of Maven is necessary.

A Key to Maven is it can be used to build everything you want built, including tests, docs, deployment, etc. Since your project group shares a single Maven file you will also all be on the same versions of all libraries and plugins declared in Maven.

Here are some Maven plugins or dependencies for some of the packages and features we are recommending:

Unit testing

Java unit testing with JUnit

JUnit is a unit testing framework developed for Java. While we are primarily recommending JUnit, you may also want to look at TestNG which has more features.
  • Don't install it directly, use the Maven plugin described above under Maven.
  • - the home page has getting started information as well as documentation.
  • JUnit Test Infected -- an example of JUnit in action if you are not familiar with it.

Python unittest aka PyUnit

Python has many testing frameworks; start with unittest as it is the most commonly used one.

Ruby and Swift

Ruby and Swift have their own built-in testing frameworks; use them!

SparkJava simple web/RESTful server

The official recommended web server for the class is SparkJava, a lightweight all-Java web server.
  • It has the distinct advantage of being a Java package so it integrates very well with Java applications
  • Don't install it directly, use the Maven dependency information described above under Maven.
  • If you need a more fully-featured web server or want to learn more about them for the experience, Apache Tomcat is a good choice for Java.

Databases: SQLite or Postgres

Many projects make use of a database back-end.

  • We recommend all projects start with SQLite
    • It is a very simple database good for apps with limited load and limited concurrent accesses.
    • The full database is encapsulated in a single file; as such it is also handy for databases on phones.
    • It has a full Java implementation.
    • You don't need to install SQLite directly, you can use the Maven dependency information described above under Maven.
    • It still may be handy to install the standalone app from the above homepage so you can use the sqlite3 top-loop to manually query the database.
    • It also can be handy to have a tool to directly browse the data in the database - DB Browser for SQLite is a standard one.
  • For projects making more extensive use of a database, we recommend Postgresql. There is no pure Java version of Postresql, you will need to download and install it.

Java Database connection: sql2o

  • We recommend the sql2o library for database support within Java.
  • It is not a database, it is just a Java wrapper on a database. It can be used with all the common databases: MySQL, Postgresql, SQLite, etc to support performing database operations in your Java code.
  • It supports a smart mapping between your database and your objects unlike the JDK's JDBC database wrapper, but is still giving you "manual" control of the database unlike fancy frameworks ("ORM's") like Hibernate.
  • Documentation.
  • Don't install it directly, use the Maven dependency information described above under Maven.


There are countless Javascript client-side programming frameworks. You should use one of the "big three" as they are some of the best and there is more knowledge out there on these three.
  • Angular.js - the most widely used of the three. The homepage points to many great tutorials, courses, and videos, and the Thinkster guide is also worth looking at. See the lecture Todo app example for some simple Angular code.
  • React - Facebook's framework, its #2 and seems to be catching up to Angular.
  • Ember - another very good framework, 3rd in popularity.

Currently server-side JavaScript framworks includeing Node.js are not approved for course projects. They are not bad per se, but they are too focused on pure CRUD applications.

JavaScript / Web tools

Continuous integration: TravisCI

Continuous integration frameworks automatically run your tests on each push to your master branch. It is a great gatekeeper to make sure your master branch is always working.

  • We recommend using TravisCI as it has strong integration with GitHub
  • All projects in the course jhu-oose organization at GitHub have been granted free access to the private, commercial service.
  • (For public repositories after OOSE you can use for free.)
  • If you want to set up your own CI server, look at Jenkins

Using Travis-CI

  • The documentation, which includes tutorials on how to set up the Continuous Integration server for different kinds of projects.
  • Travis has been enabled for all your projects and all you need to do to set is up is to push an appropriate .travis.yml file to your repository - no other actions at all are needed!
  • When setup is done, every time you push code to your repository, Travis is going to build your project, run your tests and do whatever more you configure it to do (e.g. run static analysis tools, report code coverage metrics).
  • Go to and hit the login button to login and to see the output (use your GitHub ID to log in).
  • You can also set it up to get a summary via e-mail (see here) and on the Pull Request page you create on GitHub. Finally, you can add a badge (see here for details) to your project's README.


If your project is difficult for course staff to build, you may need to deploy your app in Docker so we can reliably run it. This will also help your group interact since the build environment will be guaranteed to be the same for all team members.

Deployment options

We are primarily focusing here on how you can deploy your RESTful server. There are many potential methods.

Serve locally

The simplest approach is to not openly deploy it, just run on a group member's computer.

  • In the simple case it only allows the one person running it to play with the app, limiting testing.
  • For testing multi-user apps it helps to have a public-facing server, one way to do that is use e.g. ngrok which can expose your localhost:8080 as e.g. so all team-mates can access the same server. Well it looks like they are now charging to get your custom URL so if you want that feature consider localtunnel as another alternative (note you need node.js and npm installed to run localtunnel)

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

Here you are relying on a third party to deploy and run your server.

  • You give them the code for your application, and they build and run it for you.
  • Note your application has to be pretty standard and fit their expectations and assumptions, otherwise it won't work. For example you can't access the file system.
  • Examples include Heroku or AWS Elastic Beanstalk.

Heroku is one of the better PaaS options so we recommend it. It is free, working across many langauges/platforms, and having excellent documentation.

  • The Heroku dev center documents how to deploy your app to Heroku.
  • The basic idea for say a Java project is
    1. You push a branch from GitHub to Heroku
    2. The Heroku server will run mvn install on your repo
      (or, it will use the analogous build tool for whatever language your project is).
    3. You set up a Heroku Procfile which will contain the command to fire up your server
    4. Your server will then be running on your assigned Heroku URL
  • GitHub can also be configured to automatically push a certain branch to Heroku when it changes -- see Deploying with Git.
  • An alternative to deploying from GitHub is to deploy directly from your computer; for example if you are using Java/Maven, see this Maven plugin to directly deploy from Maven.
  • Its also possible to add a button to your GitHub README - Deploy to Heroku button info.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

If you need more control than PaaS, consider IaaS: this is like PaaS except you have your own (usually Linux) VM to configure however you want as you are the super-user for it.

  • This requires either experience with or willingness to learn some basic Linux
  • Fortunately for running back-ed software Linux is not that hard (its hard for the front-end stuff like drivers, peripherals, etc).
  • Industry IaaS standards include AWS EC2, Digital Ocean and Linode.
  • JHU CS also can host you: go to this page and request a VM.
With the GitHub Student Pack you can get credits for AWS and Digital Ocean, and the JHU CS hosting is also free.

Diagramming and mocking tools

Pencil and paper or whiteboard and marker work very well, but there are also useful tools for mocking UIs and for drawing UML diagrams. Feel free to use whatever, but here are some good ones to check out.