By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-04-09 Print this article Print

Eric Newcomer, CTO at Iona Technologies, in Waltham, Mass., said, "I was in a group discussion of IT executives a couple of weeks ago, and the topic of JEE came up, specifically around its future and the trend toward lighter weight containers. The clear consensus was the lightweight containers are here to stay, and someone even went so far as to say that Spring is the death knell for JEE." However, Newcomer said thats actually a kind of funny statement, "since Spring-based deployments work on JEE containers, but I guess its because most of Spring adoption has been around POJOs [Plain Old Java Objects] and lighter weight containers such as Tomcat."
Cameron Purdy, CEO of Tangosol, in Somerville, Mass., said: "Over the past few years, Spring has emerged as the most dominant application programming framework since J2EE, and, in most cases, it has done an excellent job fitting with, extending, enhancing and otherwise playing nicely with J2EE. As J2EE has evolved, its picked up some of the ideas from Spring as well, which keeps pushing Spring forward to forge new territory. Spring now covers web applications, server applications and even rich clients. We now see Spring being used in the majority of the banking and Telco systems being deployed on our Coherence Data Grid software."
To read more about Oracles planned acquisition of Tangosol, click here. Newcomer said he sees good growth potential for Spring. "Im seeing a good potential alignment right now between SCA (Service Component Architecture), OSGi and Spring that I think has a lot of potential," he said. "But I dont mean all of SCA or all of Spring, just the parts that support what Id call the OSGi model of providing lots of ways of doing lots of things, all dynamically configurable. SCA assembly and Spring configuration both have significant roles to play, but a big difference with OSGi is that you dont have to settle on a single programming model for everything." Indeed, one of the biggest issues with JEE that Spring has helped highlight is that "the container has become a big box of rocks," Newcomer said. "If you use JEE, you just get the whole box with everything inside it. Sometimes, especially for some applications, you just want one or two of the rocks in the box. Spring is great for that." Spring configuration is used in the Apache CXF project, and in Ionas Celtix open source ESB (enterprise service bus) distribution. "I see a big future role for Spring in OSGi as well, with the result being a truly significant and important lightweight alternative container to JEE," Newcomer said. Blake Connell, director of product marketing for WebLogic Server at BEA, in San Jose, Calif., said BEA is a "strong advocate" of Spring, which is very popular with many of BEAs customers. "BEA has worked well with Interface21 ensuring solid integration between BEA WebLogic Server and Spring as part of BEAs blended development model," Connell said. "BEA and Interface21 collaborated on an open-source project called Pitchfork, which enables developers to mix Spring with the new Java EE 5 programming model." Pitchfork is a component in BEAs WebLogic Server 10 application server. BEA also supports and leverages Spring in its BEA WebLogic Real Time product. And the companys services organization supports Spring, Connell said. Meanwhile, in a blog post last week, Marc Fleury, founder of JBoss who sold the company to Red Hat and subsequently retired, highlighted some of the differences between his company and its culture and Interface21 and the Springers. Ive actually been trying to find the right term for Spring devotees. JBoss committers are JBossians, and dont you forget it. But whats a Spring committer? Im torn between Springer, Springster and Springhead. But I digress. In his post, which pokes fun at Johnson and Choksi for saying they were fans of his, Fleury writes: "The English (and people from Anglo-Saxon cultures) tend to find the French rude because our ethics and Cartesian bias value telling it like it is and encourage argumentative conflict. The counterpoint is that the French tend to find the Brits to be insufferable hypocrites and phonies, probably because their ethics usually involve pretending to be being nice to people and not wanting to offend them." What can you say? Fleurys French, Johnson is a native Australian living in England. Ive dealt with both guys, though I have to admit I am more familiar with Fleury. Its sort of like the old Prince versus Michael Jackson rivalry (before Jacko got the wacko label). They played to similar audiences, had grudging respect for one another, but little love— though theyd sneak into each others concerts to keep an eye on the competition. They have different styles, but essentially they want the same things. JBoss has been in-your-face aggressive at times. Being a ground breaker means sometimes you have to get a little dirty. Its like saying you like Bill Walshs 49ers over Joe Gibbs Redskins or Bill Parcells Giants—or better yet, the Al Davis-led Raiders. Just win, baby! Walsh ran a finesse operation, with his fancy West Coast Offense (which has now permeated the National Football League). But Gibbs and Parcells won championships around defense and running the ball. They had different philosophies but similar results. JBoss led the way in the open-source enterprise Java space. Now, Spring is in the air. Spring is hot and gaining new supporters every day. Will Oracle buy Interface21? My sense is theyve already tried. And Id bet BEA has, too. But I dont know that for a fact. All I know is Rod Johnson said they plan to remain independent. And I plan to continue to keep an eye on these guys. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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