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OSGi: A component standard that bears watching

One of the old jokes about standards was a slight variation on the joke about New England weather [“If you don’t like it, wait a while, it will change.”]

If you don’t like a particular standard, wait a while, there will be another one coming along. Sometimes this is a game vendors play, and they are not always in the wrong. You cannot support every possible standard that comes down the pike.

But, among many standards worth tracking today is OSGi. It grew in part out of some disaffection with heavy Java component containers. OSGI aims to provide a solution to a lot of the problems associated with complex Java Jar file assembly. It has the support of several notable Java vendors. But some people closely watch how much emphasis different vendors put on a standard like OSGi.

We recently wrote about Sun’s GlassFish, which it is trying to establish as a standard much as Apache server modules became standards. An interesting thread related to this appeared on our sister site

Some of the thread was devoted to jokes about the idea of ‘lightweight’ servers – the thread participants are right; this light versus heavy metaphor can get overplayed. One threadster reduces it to its most absurd extension – that we are near the dawn of the age of ‘zero-gravity’ servers!

Our article on the new commercial GlassFish does not discuss OSGi. In our conversations Sun touched on OSGi – saying support was up and coming – but spent more time on JBI, a component architecture that does not necessarily exclude or (include) OSGI. In terms of OSGi support, in our discussion, Sun pointed to its GlassFish 3 Prelude software as an example of OSGi support. Our ombudsman notes that this should have been included in the original article. Sun did proudly note its support for languages outside Java in the commercial GlassFish.

The most vivid representation of OSGi to date has been Eclipse. Some people are no doubt concerned that Sun’s heart is more with its competitive NetBeans architecture than Eclipse, and that this may influence its view on OSGi.

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