By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2004-10-11 Print this article Print

Many companies choose the JBoss application server because of its extreme ease of deployment (you basically just unpack it and run it) and because it runs on almost every operating system platform out there. ISVs like it because of its strong support for standards, and its modular design makes it ideal for embedding within other applications.

With the release last month of JBoss AS 4.0, JBoss Inc. has improved the open-source application server in many of these areas to the point where it is now an attractive option for a variety of enterprises.

One of the most talked-about aspects of JBoss AS 4.0 is that Sun Microsystems Inc. has certified it as fully compliant with J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) 1.4. Corporate customers and developers will appreciate this, because it promises greater reliability and easier integration paths. However, there are many other new features in JBoss AS 4.0 that will be attractive to those developing complex Java-based Web applications.

As is often the case with application servers, many improvements are under the covers, and many are related to support for updated standards. These include improved Web services support, updated Java messaging capabilities and stronger security options.

There are many new features that developers will implement mainly through code calls in their services and applications. eWEEK Labs especially appreciated the additions that provide greater caching and server clustering options for applications.

However, although much of the underlying engine in JBoss AS has been updated, other areas have seen limited enhancements or none at all. For example, although JBoss AS has several browser-based administration interfaces, including a JMX (Java Management Extensions) console, for the most part these interfaces provide information about the server and loaded applications and cant be used for all server configuration and management.

For most server configuration and management tasks, administrators will still need to configure XML files. This is standard for most Java application servers, and most experienced developers will have no problem with it, but it adds a barrier for those just moving to Java application servers.

For developers, JBoss does not provide a full-fledged development environment. Although it does provide a tool called the JBoss IDE, this is not a stand-alone development tool. Rather, its a set of plug-ins for the popular open-source Eclipse development environment.

Click here to read about a new Eclipse project to foster open-source collaboration in testing and other areas. In tests, these plug-ins proved useful for testing applications and easily deploying them to our JBoss server. However, the plug-ins didnt provide the detailed integration one finds in development tools such as those from BEA Systems Inc. and IBM.

The documentation for JBoss 4.0 is very good, and, when we used it in tandem with the community information and forums typical of open-source applications, we had little trouble finding answers to any question. JBoss levels of service and support equal those from almost any commercial vendor.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

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Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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