New server software released Monday may be partially based on Sun's Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) business class operating platform, but it is making much more of its own noise in Web application circles.
JBoss, the Atlanta-based open source group took the wraps off of the developer edition of JBoss 4.0, which is the company's first attempt at an aspect-oriented programming (AOP) framework and what executives say is a move "beyond J2EE." The goal, as they see it, is to make a bare-bones application framework that can adapt to a gamut of components or features. AOP was developed about a decade ago at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
"It is the only Java application server to enable developers to define acid behavior for all Java objects, including those existing in Web layers," JBoss founder and CEO Marc Fleury said.
Although the standards-compliant, J2EE-based application server is implemented in Java designed for use by Java developers, systems administrators and independent software vendors (ISVs), Fleury said his company is not relying on the blessing of Sun Microsystems or the Java Community Process to release his full product in the fourth quarter of 2003.
"Will we be 1.4 compatible? The short answer is yes," Fleury said, "The long answer is that we are still in negotiations with Sun."
JBoss and Sun have been airing their compatibility conflict in the press for some time, with both sides claiming market solidarity. The latest quibble over J2EE's next version (v1.4), which is the keystone of Sun's Web services platform, comes down to JBoss conducting compatibility tests and paying a "multiple six-figure" licensing fee.
"They're telling me it's a brand against their J2EE platform. Frankly, I'm tired of pushing a spec that customers don't want," Fleury told internetnews.com. They [Sun] can't force me to [pay the fees or take the comaptibilty test]. 4The reference implementation is a joke. Instead Sun should be paying me for marketing their platform."
Fleury said his code is only 20 percent J2EE, so compatibility is almost a moot point.
"We are closer to .NET in philosophy than to the J2EE spec with JBoss 4.0," Fleury said. "Most developers want to use some aspects of J2EE, but they don't want the whole thing. Right now JBoss' innovation is beyond the latest JCP spec. We would love to participate but it would take years before it goes through all the negotiations and politics. We're moving ahead now."
So far, JBoss' cavalier attitude and product seems to have taken off. JBoss boasts its Web application server software has already been downloaded 2 million times (on track for 3 million by the end of the year) at an estimated rate of 150,000 times per month and is believed to be the most widely used application server, even above IBM's WebSphere or BEA's WebLogic, according to some industry publications.
The company said the server's remote framework and associated aspects enable developers to easily define methods as "one way" for asynchronous calls. JBoss says this is an extremely useful programming construct that previously required heavy use of JMS messaging and EJB Message Driven Beans.
As part of version 4.0, the new server architecture also includes a JMX (Java Management Extension) micro-kernel architecture, which provides dynamic, configurable and pluggable deployment, manages component dependencies, and provides component management and persistence. JMX forms the basis for building and managing distributed J2EE Web applications.
The software also supports "hot deploy" so that components, EJB, applications, database connections, AOP constructs, and even plain JAR files can be installed, uninstalled and re-installed any time. JBoss says this allows for faster development cycles since the application server does not need to be restarted, and new application versions can be cycled at runtime.
In addition to free downloads of the server software, the group also supports training, support, consulting and documentation for JBoss 4.0.
Release 1 of JBoss 4.0 is available for download here. Release 2 is scheduled for later this month, and Release 3 is scheduled to be out in August or Spetember. If all goes as planned, the final version of JBoss 4.0 will hit the streets by year end.