Welcome to 2002 J2EE. The year 2001 has been a learning experience
for all of us in the Java technology universe. The lesson has been a
painful one - focus on the business problem and apply technology to
ensure the right ROI. About a year ago, several folks were riding out
the fantasy of paper money; options would change their entire
lifestyle. They were going to take a year off and get back to work
when they felt like it. Their requirements for cars and houses had
taken on a whole new dimension. They were asking the world to excuse
them while they kissed the sky. Then the bubble burst, and we're all
back to basics again; living a fairly good life, but with no drastic
changes. Last year, in anticipation of this revolution, the industry
introduced several products to support it. These products are now on
the shelves of discount stores.
For the past few years there has been the dream of a global
enterprise driven by technology. That dream is still alive, but it
has been tempered a bit by reality. The reality check has impacted
all technology platforms, and Java is no exception. In retrospect,
the partitioning of the Java platform into three editions has made it
much more feasible for developers and architects to justify using the
right combination of Java APIs for the right problem. Selecting the
appropriate mix of Java features out of a monolithic platform would
have been a formidable task in the current economic climate. In
addition, the efforts of Sun, the IDE vendors, and the application
server vendors have helped architects define how Java can be applied
in their particular domain. In that sense, the Pet Store Demo was
much needed in the Java industry.
Let's look at some of the facets of the J2EE platform that
have been affected. The core of J2EE is the EJB object model. As I
mentioned in my last editorial (JDJ, Vol. 6, issue 12), the J2EE
application server market will suffer as a result of companies
reevaluating their problem domain's requirements. Many applications
don't require the full power of a heavy and complex middle tier. The
Web layer, which uses the Web application server (as opposed to the
J2EE application server) and goes through homegrown data access
modules to the data source, is becoming an attractive alternative.
JSPs and servlets have already gained a lot of momentum. Container
providers such as Tomcat and iPlanet Server are becoming viable
alternatives to J2EE application servers. Not to say that the EJB
market has died, only that it's being evaluated more judiciously to
make sure it's the right solution for the problem.
ERP connectivity is a large piece of the puzzle and the focus
of applications has shifted from global information exchange to
interaction with traditional EIS sources. For that reason, the Java
community is looking at JCA to provide developers with the means to
get to a variety of ERP sources. At the same time, ERPs are exposing
their core functionality via Java APIs and Web services. In 2002, we
should see a maturing of the JCA and alternative connectivity
For the last few years Java internationalization has been a
crucial part of all applications. Though this continues to be the
case, the requirements for internationalized software will probably
change. Consequently, leveraging Java APIs for internationalization
will no longer be the focus. For example, last year at my company we
were looking at a requirement for supporting an interface in two
languages for the same desktop. This was for a site that would manage
an auction for two different clients. Since public marketplaces have
fallen out of favor, such requirements are rare today.
Finally, another example of basic requirements that have
changed are those associated with security and user management.
Self-registration and Web access to corporate applications are not as
common now as they were earlier. Therefore, the requirements for
firewalls and single sign-on have changed a lot for enterprise
applications. The requirements for integrating applications into a
common security layer for the intranet are becoming more common than
the ones for the Internet. Again this impacts which areas of Java
will be leveraged to solve specific problems.
The good news is that the J2EE platform continues to evolve
to meet the needs of the new economy and continues to be the platform
of choice for enterprise applications.
Ajit Sagar is the J2EE editor of JDJ and the founding editor and
editor-in-chief of XML-Journal. A lead architect with Innovatem,
based in Dallas, he's well versed in Java, Web, and XML technologies.