All right, I'm ready to admit that I made a slight miscalculation. Not an error, necessarily...just a slight misjudgment when it came to the timing of something. Back in January I made a set of predictions concerning the industry, as I'm wont to do at the beginning of a new year. In those predictions I stated that I didn't think we'd see any Enterprise JavaBean products until the end of this year.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that EJB is the all-Java equivalent of CORBA or COM. It's also the direction I see Java programming headed toward for a number of reasons. First of all, it offers a strong set of built-in functionality. It handles transaction management for you. It handles concurrency management for you. It allows you to write code as if only a single user was ever going to use it. And it provides a fairly scalable platform for distributed computing. Some EJB implementations will run on any hardware that supports a JVM, from a PC running 95 or Linux to an IBM 390.
It was my suspicion that applications and products designed for EJB wouldn't be available until the end of the year. That was for a number of good reasons. The 1.0 release of the EJB specification was publicly released in March 1998. To the best of my knowledge, the first EJB servers appeared around September - please don't get mad if I missed some early releases. It doesn't really matter
I think the interest in EJB started to reach critical mass about the time we did our JDJ Editor's Choice Awards, which we presented at the JiBE show in December. By that point I had identified a number of vendors who were releasing products that supported EJB, either as the sole point of the server or as an addition to existing functionality. Last time I counted there were 28 server products that supported EJB.
My thoughts in January were that it would take about nine months to develop application products for EJB. I wasn't wrong in that - in fact, I was the chief architect of a project that did just that. What I forgot about was that some vendors were hard at work with beta software three months before the true release of shipping products.
So that brings us to August, or actually July as I write this. I now know of one shipping product and one beta product that are completely based on EJB. The shipping product is called JumpStart, a product from the Theory Center. I'll be evaluating the product in a forthcoming issue. The beta product is from a company called TradingDynamics. Both address e-commerce. JumpStart is a general-purpose transaction mechanism that supports rapid development of business to consumer sites. The TradingDynamics product is more of a brokerage product - designed to handle negotiations and auctions rather than just purchases.
A fact I find particularly interesting is that TradingDynamics and the Theory Center both selected WebLogic as their default EJB host. I have nothing but good things to say about BEA and their WebLogic product - I worked with it for nine months and found it to be incredibly stable and scalable. The Cloudscape Java database also seems to be evolving as a de facto standard for demonstration implementations. For those of you who don't know Cloudscape, they focus on embedded databases for Java. Small ones, not databases that would compete with Oracle and the like. If you have a system that needs a local database with no management, Cloudscape is worth a look.
So I was a little off on timing. I'm glad to see it, actually. There's not a technology related to Java that I believe in more strongly than EJB. I think it's a good answer to distributed computing, and most solutions associated with it provide multiple connection options so you can build your business logic, then create a Java application to administer the system, and an applet or a servlet to provide access to the system.
About the Author
Sean Rhody is the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a senior consultant with Computer Sciences
Corporation, where he specializes in application architecture - particularly distributed systems.
He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]