To fully appreciate the power behind Workshop, you need to know a bit
about Java Web Services (JWS), an up-and-coming standard in the J2EE
world. Just as you can embed Java code in a JSP file and have it
compile on the application server, Java code in a JWS file is
compiled automatically into a Web service.
JWS allows you to take standard method calls in a Java class
and, by adding one or more Javadoc-based annotations, instruct the
Web application server to expose the method as a SOAP-based Web
service. Workshop allows you to map an XML element in the SOAP
message to a specific method parameter. This allows the service to
maintain its public contract (the underlying SOAP interface) while
changing the implementation.
The Design View, an integrated development environment,
contains a visual representation of a Web service and a runtime
environment where you can code, compile, deploy, and test a Web
service under development. The beta version I used came bundled with
a prerelease version of WebLogic Application Server 7.0 and WebLogic
The Design View is made up of several window panes showing
various aspects of the Web service under development (see Figure 1).
The left side contains both a project and a structure pane, the right
a property panel where you can modify the characteristics of the Web
service. A visual representation of the service is provided in the
center pane. When you click the source view tab, it switches to an
editor containing Java source code.
Building a Web Service
Workshop provides developers with the ability to create and
deploy Web services just by creating and configuring objects in a
"painter"-like interface. Within the Design View, you can set up one
or more public interfaces for the Web service and attach the control
interfaces of the EJB components, database objects, etc., to the
service. The underlying Java code that you write for the service
integrates the various control interfaces into a functioning Web
Building and deploying your Web service is extremely easy and
seamless. Initiate the build, and you're only a few seconds away from
testing the interface in the test harness. If all goes well compiling
the JWS file, the process of building and deploying (no syntax
errors) works each and every time.
Workshop's browser-based test harness facility contains
everything you need to verify and diagnose your Web service. The
overview tab in the harness contains various links to the WSDL for
the service, client source code, a description of the service, and
some other useful links. The console tab takes you to the WebLogic
console, where you can monitor the various components that make up
your service. The Test form and Test XML tabs provide you with the ability to
run the Web service and monitor the request and response messages.
The harness automatically comes up when you build your Web service,
and is essentially testing a fully deployed Web service.
The GUI design is clean and visually appealing; the service
controls and adapters are well laid out and easy to read. The
complete development cycle is quick and seamless; you can easily run
through a complete test cycle in under a minute.
One particular aspect of the Design View I found unique is
the instant code checking feature. If there's a problem in your code,
it'll immediately be underlined with a wavy red line. Move the mouse
focus on top of the error condition and a description appears. The
autofill feature in the editor worked equally well, and listed the
various methods available on a particular instantiation of a class.
Web Service Debugging
The IDE provides several of the standard debugging features
you would expect in a Java development tool. I ran one of the Web service examples in debug mode and set a breakpoint or two. It worked as
you would expect it to when invoking the service through the test
harness. This is definitely an added bonus.
BEA WebLogic Workshop is not a Java IDE in the traditional
sense. It simplifies J2EE development for developers who don't know
J2EE APIs. While you don't build EJBs directly in WebLogic Workshop,
the runtime creates EJBs to implement the Web service. Also, although
the builder can easily set up a JMS queue for an operation, Workshop
does not assist in setting up JMS publish and subscribe message
interfaces. You'll need to set them up manually or use a utility that
comes with the messaging server. Also, the product does not contain
an embedded workflow engine, so all workflow activity needs to be
managed within the Java code.
Workshop has the potential to be a powerful tool in the
development and deployment of large and complex Web services, where
you can literally see how it all fits together and works. Combined
with the latest version of BEA WebLogic Server, it becomes a very
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