Spring Takes a Page from the Eclipse Playbook

Interface21, the maintainer of the open-source Spring Framework, is taking cue from the Eclipse Foundation's Callisto release and pursuing a coordinated release of Spring subprojects.

Interface21, the maintainer of the increasingly popular open-source Spring Framework, is planning to go the way of the Eclipse Foundation and introduce a coordinated release of the Spring Framework and many of its related subprojects.

In an interview with eWEEK, Adrian Colyer, chief technology officer at London-based Interface21, said the company is targeting the first half of 2007 for a coordinated release train of Spring and its subprojects that takes cue from the Eclipse Foundations successful release of Callisto, a coordinated release of 10 major Eclipse projects at once.

Indeed, the Spring Framework is a Java application framework that has been gaining interest and adoption as a lightweight alternative to Java Platform Enterprise Edition development. Interface21 held the Spring Experience conference in Hollywood, Fla., Dec. 7-10, where Colyer and Spring project founder and Interface21 CEO Rod Johnson spoke with eWEEK.

In addition to the core Spring Framework, Spring features several related projects, including Spring Security, Spring AOP, Spring Web Flow, Spring Web Services, Spring Rich Client, Spring IDE, Spring MVC, Spring LDAP, Spring OSGi and Spring.Net.

"Its not just the Spring Framework—theres a whole raft of Spring projects coming together," Colyer said.

"So the theme of whats happening is its going from being just the Spring Framework to being a portfolio of projects that work together to solve an ever-increasing class of problems that crop up in enterprise software," Colyer said.

Colyer said that although Spring has a lot of the requisite pieces for building out a complete application stack, "what were doing is saying, Lets bring that picture together."

Right now the pieces have been loosely correlated independent projects, he said. "But wouldnt it add a lot more value to our clients and to the users of this stuff if we put out what were calling a release train—a coordinated release across those projects that guarantees that this version of Spring works with this version of Spring Security and with this version of Spring Web Flow, etc., and they hit the decks at the same time?

/zimages/2/28571.gifInterface21s CEO says 2006 was Springs coming-out party. Click here to read more.

"Were modeling this on what Eclipse did with its Callisto release, where theres a whole bunch of things in the Eclipse ecosystem, and theyre still independent projects with independent committers but unite around a common theme, common milestones and common release date," Colyer said.

And when these projects roll out in a coordinated release some time in the first half of next year, "well make sure they work together and that there are samples showing how this all fits together to give you a coherent system solution," he said.

This fits right in with Interface21s client demand, Colyer said, as "clients are telling us to be more prescriptive."

Interface21 will use the core Spring Framework project as the driving engine for the coordinated release.

The company released Spring 2.0 in October, so the coordinated release is targeted for the next major release of the platform. "So what wed like to do is around the time of Spring 2.1 bring out a bunch of other things that coordinate with that," Colyer said. The planning for Spring 2.1 is under way, and a general release is expected in the first half of next year, he said.

Johnson said he believes "the success of Spring is attributable to the fact that its based in experience. It is a technology that grew out of experience with real-world problems and solves real-world problems."

Moreover, Johnson said Spring deals with a lot of complex plumbing that otherwise would have to be done in-house.

Colyer said Spring strives to be both simple and powerful. "To be simple and in fact powerful is the exact combination that Spring is after," he said. "Thats a really hard trick to pull off."

In some cases, Spring-powered applications have displaced mainframe systems. And mainframe systems might be considered the last hideout of serious quality, Colyer said.

"The mainframe systems are really serious about quality and about performance and scalability," Colyer said. "And that was replaced by a Spring application that hit the quality bar and outperformed the old mainframe application as well."

Added Johnson: "In a way we are doing our part to bring back some of the characteristics of the mainframe era."

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