SpringSource Release Train Chugs Along

The company is looking to simultaneously release its open-source projects in the early spring.

With Christmas right around the corner, SpringSource is planning to give its users a shiny new train. It may not arrive in time for the holiday, but it won't be far behind.

Taking a page from the Eclipse Foundation playbook, SpringSource is working on delivering a release train of all-or mostly all-of the components in the SpringSource portfolio. SpringSource is targeting March as the time frame for delivering the release train.

The SpringSource Portfolio consists of the Spring Framework, Spring Security, Spring Web Flow, Spring Web Services, Spring Dynamic Modules for the OSGi (Open Services Gateway Initiative) Service Platform, Spring Batch, Pitchfork, Spring Modules, AspectJ, Spring IDE, Spring.Net, Spring LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), and Spring Rich Client.

It is not clear how many of those projects will be updated on time for release with the March release train, but SpringSource is hard at work on the technology. Although SpringSource officials hardly mentioned the release train at the company's recent Spring Experience conference, the company has established it as an internal engineering objective.

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In a blog post from May, when SpringSource received a $10 million shot in the arm from venture capitalists, Chief Technology Officer Adrian Colyer wrote that in late 2006, "we started talking about the notion of a Spring 'release train.' The idea behind the release train is that we put out coordinated releases of the products in the Spring Portfolio: tested together and working together. You can still pick and choose the pieces you need, but it will be easier to use the various products together when you want to. We're not there yet, but we're on our way."

Meanwhile, although Spring sprang from the Java world-because of Spring Framework creator Rod Johnson's vision for making enterprise Java development easier-SpringSource is making inroads into the .Net world with the company's Spring.Net product.

Mark Pollack, a principal software consultant at SpringSource, is also a Microsoft solutions architect and a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Pollack also is the lead of the Spring.Net project.

"Spring.Net is an implementation of the Spring Framework for .Net," Pollack said. "You can configure your application with dependency injection and also apply AOP [aspect-oriented programming] to .Net applications.

Pollack said Spring.Net can be used as an "embrace and extend" strategy for Web developers using .Net technology. "What you have learned about ASP.Net still applies," he said. "It's useful for making Web apps. That's one of the most popular on-ramps for .Net developers" to pick up Spring.Net, Pollack said.

Moreover, he said Microsoft's Windows Communication Foundation "is similar in spirit" with the way Spring handles distributed calls.

Pollack said Microsoft is working on a controller-based Web framework under Scott Guthrie, a general manager in Microsoft's Developer Division.

"I'm working with that team to make sure their stuff works with Spring.Net," Pollack added.

Spring.Net also helps promote interoperability between Java and .Net environments, Pollack said. Having been proven on the Java platform gives Spring.Net a sound footing, he said.

"It's quite compelling to know we can take this thing over [to .Net] and feel confident about its capability because it's already had the snot beat out of it on the Java side," Pollack said.

Meanwhile, SpringSource is working on the SpringSource Tool Suite, which builds on Eclipse, the Spring IDE (integrated development environment) and Mylyn.

"Spring IDE is an extension to the Eclipse IDE, with things lacking in Eclipse that are needed for Spring development," said Christian Dupuis, co-lead of the Spring IDE project.

"We thought it would be useful to include Mylyn because Mylyn reduces information overload, so we started a collaboration [to include Mylyn in the Spring Tool Suite]," said Mik Kersten, creator of Mylyn, a task-focused user interface for Eclipse.

Kersten, founder and chief technology officer of Tasktop Technologies, said the Spring Tool Suite will simplify and streamline the development and maintenance of enterprise applications by bringing Mylyn's task focus to the developer's entire tool set.

SpringSource officials refer to the Spring Tool Suite as a "consultant in a box."

Meanwhile, Dupuis said he recently met with SpringSource's Pollack to "talk about what it would take to bring tool support for Visual Studio" in the Spring tool set.

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