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By the time you get this issue, Christmas will be around the corner. From the J2EE arena, what is on your wish list for the coming year? More sophisticated tools? All-encompassing solutions for your business? More J2EE-related jobs next year? A utopia where J2EE and .NET can live together happily ever after? Better, cheaper, faster environments to build your solutions?

For me, one of the most significant developments this year has been the tighter relationships that open source products have developed with commercial J2EE or related technology vendors, and vice versa. At JDJ, we've been covering a lot of activity in the world of open source vis--vis Java. Given the state of today's economy, one of the trends you must have noticed is the strategy that commercial vendors have adopted - embrace open source, embed it in your offerings, and promote a unified, standardized Java environment. This gets the buy-in from the Java community. But more important, Java developers get a better-supported product suite to build enterprise applications.

There is a symbiosis between the different environments right now. As always, established vendors are magnifying their footprints by integrating with products and frameworks that are not a part of their core technology. However, there's a greater focus on adopting open source development to achieve this. This happens at several levels. Let's consider IDEs first.

Most of the leading IDEs, including Sun ONE Studio, WebSphere Studio, JBuilder, IDEA - almost every application server worth its salt - provides varying levels of support for the open source build tool (Ant) and testing framework (JUnit). Others provide support for tools that are not yet de facto standards, like Cactus. At the same time, the J2EE application servers have adopted these tools as de facto standards for configuration and deployment.

To take the acceptance of open source software one level higher, let's look at J2EE IDEs. WebSphere Studio is an example of an IDE that has not only adopted these standards, but is building the next version of their product on an open source framework - Eclipse. Struts is becoming a default standard for most IDEs. This doesn't mean your IDE can just integrate with Struts applications; it lets you build the presentation tier on Struts components that are natively supported from within the development environment.

Now let's look at J2EE and open source from the perspective of business solution and enterprise integration providers. Vendors in this area, as expected, are expanding into each other's space. In the past few years, this expansion was achieved by acquisitions and mergers. Naturally, vendors are a lot more conservative in today's economy. Besides the cost of acquiring a company, one of the concerns is the long-term viability of the company being acquired. Open source again emerges as cost effective and the more stable choice.

webMethods, a leading vendor in the enterprise integration space, recently made a very smart move by planning to integrate the JBoss J2EE application server directly within the webMethods integration platform. J2EE application server vendors have tried to grow into the enterprise integration space via J2EE Connector Architecture or direct integration via native connectors. This recent move by webMethods is an example of integration servers growing into the J2EE application server space.

In the near future, a business solution provider can look at an integrated platform that offers connectivity to legacy systems via Web services, as well as J2EE components that are natively hosted by a single vendor.

Earlier I mentioned symbiosis. On the other side of the coin, the J2EE open source community gains a lot too. The industry as a whole is always a little wary of something that is free. When open source is backed by popular commercial vendors, and much-needed marketing clout is put behind such initiatives, the community has a far greater chance of survival and future growth. The result is a shrink-wrapped offering that should make it onto all our Christmas lists. On that note, I hope all of you have a happy holiday!

Author Bio
Ajit Sagar is the J2EE editor of JDJ and the founding editor of XML-Journal. He is the director of engineering at Controlling Factor, a leading B2B software solutions firm based in Dallas, and is well versed in Java, Web, and XML technologies. ajit@sys-con.com

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