SpringSource’s Spring Cleaning for Java

Java developer SpringSource yesterday debuted its new application server, an enterprise-scale offering designed around modularity — as well as what the company considers a much-needed pruning of Java libraries.

Over the course of its life, Java has had numerous technologies thrown into the stew that is Java Enterprise Edition. Some have become obsolete, while others are just not used, so SpringSource went through the stack and only supported new, widely adopted technologies.

The new SpringSource Application Platform is a complete runtime and application server platform that incorporates technologies like the Spring framework created by SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson, the Eclipse OSGi component model and Apache Tomcat technologies. But it omits obsolete technologies like the older Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) models and AWT, the original GUI library in Java.

“Existing products are constrained by the ten-year-old legacy of J2EE,” Johnson told InternetNews.com. “We will implement Java 6 EE [the forthcoming release of Java] but not specs that are historical baggage. This enables us to bring to market a product that is not constrained with the baggage that is in other products.”

Despite the paring down on Java, Johnson added that SpringSource Application Platform will still cover the technologies people want to use, like servlets , JSF , JSTL and JSP .

“With respect to the Java language itself, I think it’s time for some spring cleaning,” he said. “There are times when you can say, ‘We have to maintain backward compatibility, but let’s see if anyone uses this thing.’ If no one does you can take it out.”

SpringSource Application Platform distinguishes itself from competing Java app servers in other ways. Primarily, that’s through its use of Spring, a popular alternative to EJB that gained favor while Sun required a few iterations to get EJBs right.

Spring’s platform also builds on dynamic modules so only what needs to be loaded is loaded, giving it a smaller footprint, Johnson said. The also server supports Spring bundle deployments, so applications can be broken up into smaller modules and deployed in easier-to-manage pieces.

The Application Platform’s modularity also makes it possible to redeploy parts of an application without restarting the server, or even having to restart the whole application.

Additionally, it supports multiple application versions, so more than one version may run in parallel without interfering with the other. This allows for maintaining backward compatibility until everyone is fully transitioned to the newer application.

The SpringSource Application Platform is available in beta for download on the SpringSource Web site. Open source and commercial versions of the product are planned for general availability in June 2008.

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