One of the most vibrant trends in Java in recent years has been the growth of support for non-Java languages on the JVM. PHP, Groovy, Ruby – these and other dynamic scripting languages have obtained a place in the application development life cycle where quickly building tactical Web apps trumps deliberatively building all-purpose strategic apps to stand the test of time.
Lost somewhat amid a slew of WebSphere news this spring was word of a WebSphere version aimed at users of dynamic languages. Don Boulia, director of product management, IBM WebSphere, tells us the no-compile time dynamic languages have a place in what are being called ‘situational’ apps. These situational applications recall an earlier era of Rapid Application Development (RAD). In fact, PHP, Ruby and other languages are beginning to fulfill a role not unlike that of Visual Basic and PowerBuilder, two languages of the RAD era.
IBM’s Boulia indicates that running these dynamic languages on IBM’s JVM and WebSphere application server helps IT departments ensure a simplified runtime environment. While many languages may be flowering, that doesn’t need to mean a plethora of app server types for sys admins to manage.
Sometimes what is beginning to be known as Web apps is more familiarly known as Intranet apps. “There is this class of apps in the enterprise where they are time sensitive – they must be built quickly or can be temporary in nature” said Boulia. For these, sometimes, “if you use an enterprise tool set it will “take too long or require skills” the available people just don’t have.
“In the old days that was built with PowerBuilder. It met the need and you could move on,” he said.
“It comes down to the right tool for the job,” Boulia commented, echoing others. And, sometimes, it is the Java developers themselves opting to use a scripting language.
“There are Java people who have scripting skills or interest in it for certain situations,” he said. “That’s what drove our use of Groovy. It has a strong affinity to Java. The other side is in terms of skilled people who don’t have a Java background. PHP is very popular in that space.”
A small caveat: The idea that this is all about special situations, and not an enterprise element, should not be taken to an extreme. “From a trends perspective, a few not-so-small entities have begun to use [scripting languages] as the foundation for their Web tiers. That’s where it is less situational and more part of a strategic solution,” said Boulia.
Big Blue has company in this quest. Last month, Oracle released its first version of the Sun GlassFish server, which includes support for JRuby/Ruby and Groovy/Grails. Also in June, RedHat’s JBoss division debuted a JBoss Java portal server that supports Ruby and Groovy as well.
The Hibernate object-relational mapper has gained wide acceptance for performing the still critical task of converting objects to relational entries and relational entries to objects. For a number of years it has been stewarded, in effect, by Red Hat, which discussed new Hibernate developments, among a host of issues, at its recent JBoss World event in Boston.
Of late, the Hibernate project has come to include functionality of the Plain-Old Java Object (POJO) kind for a number of cool uses. As well, Hibernate has been updated to support features found in Java Persistence API 2 (JPA 2). Of course, there is a good gang of many that just wants to stick with POH (Plain-Old Hibernate). Theoretically, they should be able to keep on keeping on with their familiar data models, but the new stuff is there if they like.
At JBoss World, Emmanuel Bernard, Principal Software Engineer, Red Hat, highlighted new Hibernate capabilities such as a type-safe Criteria API, a static memtamodel generator and a fetch profile. He admitted that some of the additions are not quite his cup of tea. He outlined a new partial generator, but then concluded, ”don’t use it.”
“We were against it, but,” he admitted, “we have to support [JPA 2]. If you have to [use it] you can.” Meanwhile, the general view is that Hibernate adherence to other Java standards is valuable, giving it a longer life span, perhaps.
Some of Bernard’s recent work revolves around Hibernate Search, which brings Lucene search features to the Hibernate API set. Last month, Hibernate Search 3.2 was released. Its search capability is an example of how Hibernate is expanding to do more with data bases and across the enterprise’s various stores. The bet here is that data-oriented software generally will be pushed more and more over time to provide the Google-style searchability with which end users have become familiar. Witness the general push to REST formats.
While we are Hibernating, we’d like to point out that Cameron McKenzie and crew at sister site TheServerSide.com have recently produced a series of Hibernate 3.5 tutorials. McKenzie has created a slew of useful stories since taking TheServerSide.com helm in March, while continuing to oversee its always lively community discussions.
When people first started trotting out DHTML apps for wireless devices in the ‘90s a common mistake was to require that the app was always on, always connected. The problem was not limited to wireless devices.
Enter the asynchronous architecture. Ajax especially proved to provide just enough power to drive Web applications forward. At heart is the assumption that connectivity is not absolute. Clients exhibit some autonomy.
As more and more software applications are delivered as Web applications, software architects are still learning the merits of the asynchronous. They are still learning and arguing the implications as the underlying tools change – one of these being HTML5.
Dion Almaer discusses HTML5, and its possible effect on computer design, in a recent blog on Ajaxian.com. He suggests a more client centric design maybe near.
”A lot of code we will be rewritten and changed for ‘HTML5ication,’ which is an opportunity for a change in how things are done,” he writes in ”The march to a more client-centric Web: Will the mobile Web HTML5 and Chrome Web apps be the tipping point?” A long march and a long title that! Check it out!
By Jack Vaughan
A long time ago, integration of various applications, application elements and databases became the main work of application development. Web services and SOA were first discussed in this context: Application architects and developers did not have to write every element from scratch.
Instead they would call in services, in some cases, as needed. These services were usually wrapped in XML and delivered over HTTP. They were called Web services, and were combined sometimes using techniques of service-oriented architecture. A classic example of an early Web service was a stock ticker feed.
With the stock feed, there was no need for you to write it yourself – you called it over HTTP. You could program against such a data service. For example, you might have five competitors’ stock prices feeding on to an executive’s PC screen. Maybe you would correlate this with another fee, say, money exchange rates. The Web services stock feed demo became so common that it became kind of boring.
Fast forward to today. Where B2B is in play, we now share services across corporate boundaries. Other than that, much of the services action still remains within the confines of the operation where components are shared across departments. These shared services bear some conceptual similarity with software object architecture of the ‘90s, although the implementation details are very different. Most discussion of SOA as it has evolved has been about in-house services.
Where are Web stock tickers now? They have become ubiquitous and something of an afterthought. But their siblings continue to grow. What is happening is that a genuine industry is growing up around this Web data services. The providers often have familiar names: Thomson Reuters and D&B, for example. But new entities have emerged such as StrikeIron, which offers a catalog of data services. Let us know what data services have worked for you. What has not worked? What questions do you have on data services?
Cloud computing has a lot to offer a service-oriented architecture. Provisioning resources on demand can cut out hardware costs and increase scalability, multi-tenancy can conserve space and, on some platforms, you never even have to own the hardware you run on.
But to get the most bang for your buck out of cloud computing your application infrastructure needs to be optimized for these sorts of architectures, said Paul Fremantle, CTO at open source middleware provider WSO2. In other words, the application infrastructure needs to be designed for a cloud environment rather than packaged up and ported onto it. Continued »
When HP announced LoadRunner in the Cloud two weeks ago, many took it as validation that enterprise software testing really is a viable use for public cloud computing services. While the offering is currently entering a beta phase, HP will soon make its flagship load testing product available in the on-demand model found in a number of other cloud testing services.
“That was a big, big announcement because HP LoadRunner is the industry standard,” said Theresa Lanowitz, founding analyst of voke Ink., “And it’s no longer going to be cost prohibitive.”
While there are a number of newer vendors offering on-demand test labs for QA teams, Lanowitz said a tech giant like HP only makes such a departure from its traditional licensing model when it feels it has to. Continued »
SOA and middleware over the last few years have proved to be areas full of both innovation and debate. Add the resurgence of BPM and you have a potent mix for any one publication to cover. That’s just one of the reasons we at SearchSOA.com are glad to be working alongside the crew from ebizQ.net, which joined the TechTarget Application Development Media Group in March. Many of the ebizQ.net contributors will be familiar to SearchSOA.com readers. The site is particularly notable for the vivid presence of Joe McKendrick, one of SOA’s more notable pundits. His work is always worth a look-see and read. Continued »
Enterprise architecture (EA) frameworks like The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and the Zachman Framework offer powerful reference models through which enterprises can build out infrastructures that try to better align business and IT. Obviously every organization has its own approach to architecture, making it something of a relative concept. But does that mean enterprise architecture is arbitrary?
John Zachman himself recently wrote a post in which he seemed to chide much of the IT world for not treating EA as a serious enough discipline. Continued »
Increasingly, B2B integration involves data made available to business partners over the Web. But despite this “explosion of data” on the Web, IT departments don’t always have the time or resources to integrate and automate the access they need to partner data, said Stefan Andreasen, founder and CTO of Kapow Technologies.
This month, Kapow released Web Data Server (WDS) 7.2, an update to its flagship application used to build, test and deploy data feeds and services that integrate all kinds of Web data into the enterprise infrastructure. In this update, WDS includes a full design studio IDE with a data viewer, native XML support and FTP/file system interaction.
Andreasen said this release represents a three-year effort to merge the company’s RoboMaker and ModelMaker products into one offering. He said the focus was on usability and enterprise compliance.
Software like WDS is useful for enterprises looking to integrate data from partners whose APIs present a significant technical challenge, said Andreasen. Continued »
As SOA applications grow in scale, some enterprises find that having Web services pull data from disk-based databases introduces too much latency. Some enterprises address this issue by giving their services a dedicated caching layer, said Amit Pandey, CEO of application and data scalability provider Terracotta.
On Tuesday, the company released version 2.1 of its open source Ehcache distributed caching software for Java, which it acquired in August of 2009. Pandey said the focus of this release has been adding in more enterprise features like performance monitoring, configurable SLA parameters and improved WebSphere support. Continued »