Versant to Open-Source Tools, Spearhead Eclipse Project

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-04-19

Versant to Open-Source Tools, Spearhead Eclipse Project

Versant on Tuesday announced that it is open-sourcing its ORM and data persistence platform and heading up an Eclipse Foundation project to help simplify Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition development.

Fremont, Calif.-based Versant Corp. has announced that it is contributing its commercial mapping tools and runtimes for EJB (Enterprise Java Beans) 3.0 persistence and JDO (Java Data Objects) 2.0 for object-relational mapping to the open source community.

Robert Greene, vice president of product strategy at Versant, said in addition to heading up an Eclipse project based on the JSR (Java Specification Request) 220 object-relational mapping standard, Versant will build out a services business to help enterprises "bridge the gap between traditional Java 2 Enterprise Edition persistence and new ORM architectures."

Indeed, Greene said Versant is "pretty excited" about this move and is well-equipped to handle the effort, as the company has been participating in both the EJB and JDO expert groups in the JCP (Java Community Process).

However, some observers see Versants plan as a desperate move by a desperate company that was delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange last month.

Read more here about the SCO Groups struggle to fight Nasdaq delisting.

"Were making a very large and strong move to open source with the software stack," Greene said. "Were going to provide a quality tool and then support that tool," he said.

Greene added that IBM Corp. has retained Versant as a partner for IBMs J2EE practice.

"We are experts in the old EJB 2.1 world, so were in the perfect position to help people move from the old world of 2.1 to EJB 3.0," he said.

Next Page: An Oracle-led project.

An Oracle

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Meanwhile, last week Oracle Corp. also announced that it was going to head up an Eclipse project to support EJB 3.0.

Oracle said its project would build on top of the companys TopLink Java object-to-relational tool and deployment platform.

In essence, the Oracle-led project would build an open-source EJB 3.0 ORM tool under the Eclipse Public License, said Dennis Leung, vice president of development at Oracle.

Oracle last month announced the Oracle Application Server EJB 3.0 Preview to help Java developers building service oriented architectures.

To read more about the debate over the relevance of J2EE, click here.

The two projects are not the same. Greene said.

Versants project is targeting the Eclipse DTP (Data Tools Project) and Oracles will target the Eclipse WTP (Web Tools Project).

"Its not the same project, and when they [Oracle] announced, it was news to us," said Versants Greene. "Were bringing a complete solution to the party, and theyre bringing an intent."

Leung said Oracle will be leveraging TopLink and offering the design-time portion of TopLink to the project; "the runtime is not a part of it."

Greene said Versant is hoping its competitors "would come together with us under this community process and bring this effort to fruition. Were trying to bring a standards-based ORM solution to the Eclipse community, so itll work with anybody who provides a compliant runtime."

"It should be interesting to see how this plays out," said Neelan Choksi, president of SolarMetric Inc., of Austin, Texas, which markets its own ORM and data persistence tools.

"Between the recently announced Oracle-led EJB 3 O/R Mapping Tools project and this [Versant] announcement, it would seem that the Eclipse team is starting to enter into another area that Sun has historically been in control of—the standards body. This initiative is a bit different, though, than the Oracle project, since its really a single-vendor solution, rather than something that multiple vendors will be likely to collaborate on.

"One of the places where the JCP has been particularly strong is in fostering an environment of collaboration among competitors. How the Eclipse team handles this will be a bellwether of how they will deal with the heterogeneous vendors so common in the Java space."

In addition, Choksi said, "As a member of the EJB 3 spec team and with the forthcoming release of our EJB 3 preview, our intentions are to participate on the [Oracle-led] Eclipse EJB 3 Tools project. With the popularity of Eclipse and importance of making enterprise Java tools easier to use, this makes perfect sense. Our expertise in developing standards-based O/R mapping tools and our experience with adding Eclipse plug-ins makes SolarMetric a perfect addition to this project."

Leung said JBoss Inc. has indicated that it is interested in supporting the Oracle effort.

"The Eclipse EJB 3.0 Tools project is an important step in promoting the adoption of EJB 3.0 to Java developers, particularly those in the growing Eclipse community," said Gavin King, founder of the Hibernate project and architect at JBoss, in a statement.

"EJB 3.0 will provide a number of features to help simplify Java development, said Linda DeMichiel, EJB 3.0 specification lead and architect with the J2EE platform group at Sun Microsystems Inc., in a statement.

"Oracle is a vital player in the development of EJB 3.0 and is helping to promote the adoption of EJB technology in the entire Java developer community."

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