DÜSSELDORF, Germany -- One of the interesting sessions at The IBM European WebSphere Technical Conference here this week was "What's New and Next for Web Development with WebSphere Application Server." The presenter, Roland Barcia (IBM's STSM, ISSW Lead Web 2.0 Architect), emphasized how with evolving technologies on the Java and Java Enterprise Edition (Java EE) platform -- such as XML, Web 2.0 and open source contributions -- have increased complexity and caused many pain-points for developers.
For Java developers, he indentified pains like too many artifacts, persistence complexity, global classpath problems, JAR files limitations and a long edit/compile/debug cycle for applications. Along with these, emerging technologies such as cloud computing, social computing and native mobile development have affected how we develop applications.
Barcia presented what IBM has in store for the WebSphere Application Server (WAS) to address the above Java issues.
Choosing the Right Java EE Features, Right Away
Java/Java EE will continue to be a key platform in the WebSphere Application Server, but Barcia explained that IBM will continue to give programmers options by allowing them to "choose the best programming model for the job at hand with WebSphere Application Server Feature Packs."
While the next WebSphere Beta will include Java EE V6, complete with standards like EJB 3.1, JSF 2.0 and Web Beans, developers cannot wait for urgently needed new or updated technologies. The WebSphere approach of using Feature Packs (introduced in WAS 6.1) allows developers to use the latest technology updates without waiting for the next major WebSphere release. Feature Packs are offered at no charge and can be downloaded from the IBM website. They run on top of the WebSphere Application Server.
WebSphere Application Server Feature Packs
Barcia described some of the WAS Feature Packs and explained how they alleviate a number of the pain-points Java programmers suffer. Here is a summary of the main ones.
Feature Pack for OSGi Applications and JPA 2.0
OSGi provides a dynamic module system for Java. OSGi applications and Web applications can be deployed as OSGi bundles in the OSGi Bundle Repository, which increases reuse and modularity while decreasing application memory and disk footprint. Each bundle has its own classloader, thereby minimizing the problems usually associated with a global classpath. This Feature Pack also supports the OSGi Enterprise Specification.
Another API included in this bundle is the Java Persistence API 2.0 (JPA 2.0), which includes features such as O/R mapping and domain modeling, including JPQL updates, runtime API updates, metamodel and criteria API, and Bean Validation. JPA 2.0 is important as it is meant to simplify the persistence of Java objects.
Feature Pack for Service Component Architecture
The Service Component Architecture (SCA) programming model supports the principles of SOA through application flexibility and agility. Its key features include enabling developers to build composite applications by wiring a variety of service types as well as allowing them to develop and deploy business services. SCA also supports a flexible data model.
Feature Pack for XML
XML is everywhere -- from databases to configuration files -- and this Feature Pack provides the latest in the XML world, such as:
- XPath 2.0, XSLT 2.0 and XQuery 1.0 support
- Enterprise class multi-threaded scalability
- An XML runtime API
- Support for Java applications using an XML thin client to connect to WAS
- Many samples showing how to use these technologies in Web applications.
Feature Pack for Communications-enabled Applications (CEA)
This Feature Pack delivers a programming model that simplifies the addition of communications capabilities, including support for a SOA-based programming model and support for the latest SIP Servlet 1.1 standard (JSR 289). This enhances the ways that users can interact and share data with one another while browsing Web content.
Feature Pack for Web 2.0
This Feature Pack adds Web 2.0 functionality to SOA by enabling connectivity from Ajax clients to SOA and Java EE assets (JAX-RS). It also connects Ajax clients to real-time updated data. RESTful Web services are at the core of this Feature Pack. An important offering included in this Feature Pack is the Ajax Development Toolkit, which is based on the open source Dojo toolkit and adds IBM extensions.
Feature Pack for Dynamic Scripting
Dynamic scripting complements Java as a programming option for applications that require rapid development. This Feature Pack allows for this type of development using PHP, Groovy and a Web 2.0-oriented programming model based on WebSphere sMash. It leverages many Web 2.0 technologies, such as Ajax, REST, Atom, JSON, and RSS, to enable the reuse of enterprise content.
Java EE Alone Is Not Always Enough
With the continuing evolution of technology, Barcia made it clear that the various IBM WAS Feature Packs will deliver new features for application development beyond the Java/Java EE release cycles. While Java EE remains the core technology used in WAS, developers need other technologies to ensure the success of the applications they build and deploy on the WebSphere platform.
About the Author
Tareq Shaheen is an architect and senior consultant with Ejada, an IT solutions and services company.