Miles to go …

June 23, 2010

QA#2: Java EE 6: Integrated specifications, simple and annotation driven, next level of industry standard – by Markus Eisele

Filed under: glassfish, javaee — arungupta @ 11:45 am

This blog entry is second (previous ones) in the Java EE 6 feedback from the community series. You can learn about how Java EE 6 is currently being used in production, development and deployment environments used within the community, and even feature requests for Java EE 7.

This entry comes from Markus Eisele – a senior technology consultant working for msg systems ag in Germany. The msg systems ag is one of the top 10 IT consulting and systems integration companies in Germany. Markus works as a software architect, developer and consultant. He also writes for German IT magazines. Markus joined msg in 2000 and has been a member of the
Center of Competence IT-Architecture since then. After being a Technical Director with BEA Systems, he has been a proud member of the Oracle ACE Directors program since 2008 (for Fusion Middleware and SOA). He works daily with customers and projects dealing with Enterprise Java and other new technologies, on a variety of platforms using different vendors. You can catch him on @myfear or read his blog.

Here is a short summary of Java EE 6 from him:

Higher integrated specifications, simple and annotation driven, single-classloader WARs, next level of industry standard

Read on for other fun stuff …

1. How are you using Java EE 6 today ? What limits your adoption ?

Enterprise Java has been my business since more than 9 years now. The first J2EE server I was using was the former BEA WebLogic 5.1. It supported Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition Specification, v. 1.2 (containing EJB 1.1, JDBC 2.0, JSP 1.1, Servlet 2.2). To be honest, it wasn’t big fun looking back into these days. There was lots of configuration and weird coding. And don’t even think about full-blown IDE support. It was very basic and lots of coding had to be done without any assistance.

Compared to that Java EE 6 seems to be this feels as if it is light years ahead. So many things happened to the standard in the past and it is still very exiting to see the ongoing changes. Even though I am not a member of any related expert group, I am closely monitoring the public discussions and outcomes. What I can evaluate more is the adoption in the enterprise with our customers. They are more like fast followers than early adopters. And that’s basically the setup I am looking at Java EE 6 today. More from an educational or research point of view. The goal is to be ready when first customers jump in. We have to answer questions for them, like:

- What can we do to migrate existing applications?
- What is the most standards compliant way of using this technology?
- What application servers should we use?
- What do the new specifications save in terms of time and/or money?
- How stable are new product versions?

If first projects start using new standards, we will be there to support them and already have answers at hand. At the moment we do not start over with Java EE 6 in projects. First projects are expected with the first commercial server versions from Oracle or IBM (WebLogic respectively WebSphere). Some of our customers are using GlassFish and they are sticking to the latest GlassFish 2.x versions while waiting for the clustering support coming in GlassFish 3.1. In the meantime we try to enable the developers with workshops and informative sessions about new features and updated specs.

2. What Java EE 6 technologies are you using and why ?

I am still working my way through the new features at the moment. Of both: GlassFish 3.x and Java EE 6. I started with the new CDI (JSR-299 + JSR-330) capabilities and looked at the improvements for implementing business logic with EJB 3.1 and JPA 2.0. The JSF 2.0 features gave a face to many of my prototypes.

The biggest improvements at the moment are the no-interface beans and the JPA 2.0 enhancements. In combination with the single-classloader model of WAR-deployment this is very handy for even the smallest applications. A situation we were forced to use Spring or other frameworks in the past. The ongoing annotation support is another feature-set I love to see. The reduced configuration effort with xml files seems handy but could bear risks for bigger applications using different frameworks and libraries. A big part of our daily work is cluster related. Therefore I am experimenting with the first 3.1 milestones at the moment.

3. What is your development and deployment environment ?

This is highly dependent on our customers. There is no single, company wide directive on what to use. The majority is using Eclipse. I personally prefer the latest Oracle Version (OEPE) but also have different plain Eclipse versions in use. Experimenting with GlassFish 3 I often use NetBeans 6.9 for demonstrations because of the very good GlassFish and Java EE 6 integration. I tend to be very close to productive environments in development. Therefore I am rarely using other databases than Oracle or DB2. I personally love to use MySQL for PoCs or demos.

In general we use lots of other environments based upon customer needs. Maven is the favorite build tool of choice at the moment. Longer running projects however still stick to ANT.

4. What previous versions of Java EE / J2EE have you used ? How has the migration to Java EE 6 benefited ?

I used J2EE since 1.2. Simple, technical migration from one product version to another was not too challenging at all in the past. Problems arose from switching vendors (Oracle/IBM) or updating specifications with major functional changes (CMP/JPA). Most challenging are customers staying with older product versions (and their bugs and needed workarounds). The pollution with workarounds and fixes never did any good in projects. Thankfully the times of custom frameworks to hide complexity seems to be up since Java EE 5. This was probably the most expensive part in many J2EE/Java EE 5 migrations in the past.

Seeing the advantages in OSGi based servers customers will hopefully be able to adopt new standards more easier in the future. Most valuable will be the new Web Profile. Most applications simply use the included specifications and could run on lighter environments. With the new CDI specifications we could remove some third party solutions and put it in the standard way. The so far missing JAX-RS closes a big gap left open by Java EE 5.

5. Describe the benefits of Java EE 6 to you in 120 characters.

Higher integrated specifications, simple and annotation driven, single-classloader WARs. Next level of industry standard.

6. Advice for anybody who is looking at Java EE 6 for their next project ?

If you are asking for available servers and the question, which specification is right for me today, I already tried to answering this in my blogpost

The programming approach itself is a advancement of existing Java EE 5 projects. Everything is pointing into the direction of POJOs and more Java SE like programming. Container services should be injected respectively annotated in a last step; if needed. Programming is getting more closer to solving business problems and not to the fulfillment of specification or container requirements.

7. What new features you’d like to see in Java EE 7 ?

I think the specifications are more or less feature complete. Of course I can think of a lot of improvements and I believe it’s important to stay up to date and integrate new approaches.

If you look at JSF and the RI for example, I am still missing a lot of more complex components. I always find myself implementing one or two own in my projects. If you work for  more restrictive enterprises, you are not always able to use the component suite of choice. If possible I still prefer to work with either RichFaces or PrimeFaces. Further on the cooperation between JSR 299 and JSR 330 should be clearer in general. The interaction between all JSRs should be taken to a next level. Clear but abstract guidelines
have to be specified, who is working with whom and how. If you look at the @ManagedBean annotation for example, you have three different ways of defining beans that are managed (JSR-314, JSR-316, JSR-299). That’s not exactly what I would call intuitive ;)

Generally I would love to see the Managed Beans specification becoming the heart of enterprise java. Containers should belong to the past. Services should be available to POJOs and injected (and of course started) as needed. This could speed up the whole environment a lot and frees developers from having to implement interfaces. But the most important improvements would be administrative. Java EE 7 should put those pruning ideas forward and realy try to drop some old stuff. And finally it is time to
solve all those never-ending licensing discussions about the TCKs!

Are you using, consulting, training, authoring books, etc in Java EE 6 ? Drop a comment on this blog and I’ll line you up for the Q&A session :-)

The Java EE 6 hub is your key resource to learn all about the technology.

And you can always try all Java EE 6 features in GlassFish.

Technorati: javaee6 community feedback markuseisele glassfish v3

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