BEA Hands Workshop App Framework to Apache

BEA is open-sourcing the development framework, or runtime, of WebLogic Workshop, BEA's J2EE development tool that looks to combine application development, integration and web services tasks in a single IDE. BEA execs say that they want to speed J2EE skills development industry-wide, but admit that a too-slow JSR standardization process, and an effort to seed the market with more Weblogic-savvy devs were also part of their thinking.

Tags: Open Source, BEA, J2EE, Framework, Java, Community, Technologies,


BEA's push to WLW's Development Framework into the Open Source community, dubbed Project Beehive, is aimed at simplifying J2EE development for all J2EE devs, no matter what container they use, BEA execs said.

BEA is open-sourcing the development framework, or runtime, of WebLogic Workshop, BEA's J2EE development tool that looks to combine application development, integration and web services tasks in a single IDE. .It handed its technology over to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) to manage the project last week.

BEA's push to WLW's Development Framework into the Open Source community, dubbed Project Beehive, is aimed at simplifying J2EE development for all J2EE devs, no matter what container they use, BEA execs said.

"Up until now, leveraging advanced ease-of-use features for Java came along with proprietary vendor lock-in," BEA CTO Scott Dietzen told a crowded concall. "And, these proprietary frameworks fragmented and hindered market growth." He cited stats from the "early days of Java, where we had 40-odd vendors promoting their own application programming model before J2EE came along."

Concerned that J2EE vendors are apparently on that same proprietary path again, Dietzen said: "Getting more of the Java community, particularly the Open Source-focused Java community behind a unified framework for J2EE applications will drive proliferation and help us in Java-land compete with alternative .NET technologies." Under the plan, BEA will offer WLW's application framework under a "liberal BSD licensing model to foster as much innovation as we can," Dietzen added.

To get specific, BEA will release the following WLW technologies as Open Source: a platform for creating and consuming the building blocks of SOA, web services annotations, native interoperability with .NET, pageflows to define and view page transitions between apps, and BEA's extensive controls portfolio, reuseable components for building applications.

Further, BEA is not Open Sourcing any of its runtime products -- Weblogic server, portal, integration or other components of the platform. "BEA is Open Sourcing the runtime framework of Workshop that runs ontop of those products. We hope to achieve cross-platform development, to use state-of-the-art SOA and ease of use innovations without vendor lock-in. No one else is offering this." First implementation of the Open Source WLW Developer's Framework will be targeted directly at Tomcat, Dietzen said, and the greater Java community is free to make certifications to any other containers in the Java markets.

And, why Open Source at all? Why not go through the Java Community Process to standardize or "open" the BEA WLW technologies? Dietzen cited two reasons why BEA went the Open Source route: First, "the bundle of technologies is pretty significant, larger than it would make sense to do a single JSR," Second: "The Java standardization process takes time, it's a typical 18-month cycle now to complete and fully standardize a JSR, and the intent is to get a lot broader usage in the interim. But, we are fully-committed to the [JSR] standardization process wherever we can, but ISVs are looking for investment protection across containers faster than we can JSR-standardize these innovations."

But, BEA execs admit their Beehive project is not without a profit motive says that BEA is also looking for "upselling opportunities." Willis told the concall, "Developer familiarity with Beehive translates into increased business opportunity for BEA It's similar to the Microsoft Office strategy: After you've learned Microsoft Word commands, it's very natural to move to PowerPoint and Excel and more costly and confusing to move to Lotus."

BEA cited several benefits to Java and Open Source devs from Beehive, including providing devs:

1. A unified framework for easily development of server side apps that are container independent.

2. The same drag-and drop ease of use to Java, web and SOA programming that PowerBuilder and Visual Basic brought to client/server. "Java/J2EE itself remains too sophisticated to hit the sweet spot for many application programmers. Workshop IDE and application framework hide the complexity."

3. Accelerated standardization of innovations targeting J2EE ease-of-use. The Open Source [community] is another great way to drive [standards]," Dietzen said. Citing the success of Struts, he added, "Open Source technologies get exposed to a broad audience than any single vendor can drive them."

4.Better Java support for orchestration for service-oriented-architectures, or what Dietzen called the "declarative drag and drop programming of composite apps for….workflows that tie together existing enterprise systems." He said that no other IDE offers J2EE devs the unique combination of development and integration that WLW brings.

BEA gave no date or venue for the formal availability of Beehive code, but added more details would be released next week during their eWorld users conference in San Francisco.



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