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Challenging times for Java

by Jack Vaughan

About 15 years along, Java continues to gain as an influential force in modern middleware. No matter what the future holds, it is clear that Java has brought new homogeneity to computing. Java’s biggest mid-tier value has been in J EE (formerly J2E), which has standardized many proprietary bits that once made integration development a bastion of one-offs. EJBs, JSPs, JMS, JDBC and other Java-influenced standards have changed the landscape. Before Java—and surely the CORBA crew and the Web services movement deserve a shout out here—distributed computing was for rocket scientists, there were multi various 4GLs and there were almost infinite point-to-point integrations.

But there is always a dialectic at work in computing. J EE is old enough to be feeling sore from more than a few rough tackles. EJB, for example, has gained a reputation for complexity and bloat. While updates–the latest being J EE 6–are said to effectively address these shortcomings, changes came about a little late in the day for some people. The lighter Spring framework has a foothold now. For some people, Spring has superior ease of use and just enough rigor.

Forrester Research has noted the contrasts between J EE (and .NET) and a slew of lightweight frameworks. Forrester suggests these alternative frameworks will grow in use. There are GWT, Spring, Flex and many others. Is there a dark side to this? Forrester says to look for less homogeneity if such ‘good enough’ alternatives continue to move deeper into enterprises. Isn’t this where we came in?

By the way, SearchSOA sister site is a great place to find how the Java community feels about the news of the day. With Oracle poised to close its deal to buy Sun there is a lot of interest there on MySQL, GlassFish and such. The latest edition of Spring is something of a springboard for the ongoing discussion of new versus traditional component architectures. And if you want a recap on the year just passed in Java, don’t miss ”SOA Year in Review: Acquisitions change Java landscape” on SearchSOA.

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