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Pollinating the Beehive

Java software maker Instantiations, Inc., is providing code for a new project that will connect the SOA and enterprise application framework of Apache Beehive to the Eclipse project.

The code, a set of plug-ins and UI components dubbed Eclipse Pollinate, enables J2EE developers to create advanced applications using Beehive for their network in the Eclipse IDE , freeing them from much of the drudgework involved in reusing code.

BEA Systems created Beehive, a set of software components, in May when the company open-sourced several functions out of its WebLogic Workshop, its own proprietary IDE. The functions include: Controls, for creating and re-using code; Java Page Flow, for Web-based UI and application creation; and Metadata for Web Services, which is BEA's support for Java Specification Request-175 (JSR-175). The Apache Software Foundation later picked up the project.

Project Beehive allows developers to incorporate the drag-and-drop functionality and is akin to Microsoft's popular .NET framework. Tied to an IDE, Beehive provides for a Visual Basic style of programming that makes it more manageable for novice Java developers and more time-efficient.

With the Instantiations' plug-ins, Eclipse is the fourth top-level IDE to support the Apache Beehive project, which is due to enter beta testing this fall. Borland Software's JBuilder, Compuware's OptimalJ and BEA's WebLogic Workshop are already on board.

Officials expect the Eclipse Pollinate plug-ins to mirror the development of Apache Beehive. A finalized product of Eclipse Pollinate is expected in the second quarter of 2005.

According to Dave Cotter, BEA director of WebLogic developer product management, an Eclipse plug-in has been in high demand since the launch of Beehive.

"I have every indication developers will be very pleased that Eclipse and Beehive have now come together, and I can't imagine that they won't just eat it up and become very active in both of the communities -- Eclipse and Apache," he said.

Not everyone is as enthused about Beehive, however. Chris Bell, a product marketing official from competitor WebMethods, said BEA's open-sourcing of some of its Workshop components wasn't entirely altruistic, as applications created using Beehive components must run on BEA's WebLogic Server.

"BEA seems to be responding to some salvos IBM threw their way around the 'proprietary' nature of BEA's Workshop IDE," he said. "BEA was pretty sensitive about this and later came out with this 'open source' story. But, they really haven't released their grip on their proprietary technology hold. Whenever a developer uses that BEA technology, the results will be that it must still run in BEA's Workshop environment."

The Beehive Project FAQ site bears that out, saying WebLogic Server "is the only J2EE-compliant server on which Beehive runs." However, the page also indicates Beehive will run on Apache's open-source Tomcat reference implementation for Java servlet engines, and that there is nothing stopping developers from creating a port that allows Beehive to run on other app servers.