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New 'Spring' in Java's Step



Getting applications built faster and more efficiently is a common goal for all developers. It's a goal that Java developer tools vendor SpringSource is focusing on with its new SpringSource Tool Suite (STS) 2.0 release.

The STS 2.0 toolset is designed to enable developers to rapidly develop applications for the Spring Framework, a popular Java server application framework that runs on Java servers from IBM, Sun, JBoss and Oracle.

According to SpringSource, STS 2.0 improves on version 1.0 by enhancing the Eclipse-based toolset's ease of use, enabling developers to get more done, quickly and easily.

"The STS 2.0 major highlights are about building out an extensive set of visual Spring development tools and making it more efficient and more natural for Java developers," Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management for SpringSource, told InternetNews.com.

The 2.0 release also comes as momentum ramps up in the Java ecosystem for new efforts at making development simpler, with the JavaEE 6 specification near completion and expected to be released at JavaOne later this year.

STS 2.0 is also a key release for SpringSource, which contributes to open source technology projects that, in turn, form the base for its commercial products. The Spring Framework itself is open source, while the Spring Enterprise application server is a commercial product. Similarly, on the tooling side, STS 2.0 is a commercial product based on the open source Spring IDE project, which provides the basic programming model.

A chief addition to the new STS 2.0 is a template-based project wizard that enables users to set up and generate a Spring project based on their input. Christian Dupois, principal software engineer for SpringSource, said the wizard offered a very easy way to start new projects, so users don't spend time on project infrastructure.

JavaEE 6 ahead

One of the reasons why Spring became popular in the first place is because it offers Java developers a lightweight framework for running Java applications without unnecessary application overhead. At the same time, making Java more lightweight and modular is a key goal of the upcoming JavaEE specification.

Yet while SpringSource said JavaEE 6 represents an opportunity for it to grow and make its framework even faster, it admitted that it sees some shortcomings ahead.

One major aspect of the upcoming JavaEE 6 release is the idea of profiles, a subset of Java platform technologies designed for particular classes of developers and applications.

Profiles are supposed to enable developers to run only the parts of JavaEE that they need, making the process more efficient.

But Peter Cooper Ellis, senior vice president of engineering and product management at SpringSource, told InternetNews.com that SpringSource is disappointed that their isn't a "leaner" profile it can use -- arguing that JavaEE 6 profiles, as currently specified, still have more overhead than the company would like.

Even with JavaEE 6 on the horizon, there's still plenty of opportunity for SpringSource to continue making developers' work faster and easier.

"The JavaEE 6 specification is a massive specification and it will take a while for people to implement," Ellis said. "Overall, we see an interest in lighter-weight solutions."

"Java is 10 years old and is pretty mature," he added. "There are a lot of frameworks and developers have a lot of choices. The number one challenge for us is to keep it simple, provide pragmatic solutions that developers can get stuff done with and keep their productivity up. "