JBoss Group will release the developer version of an upgrade to its open-source Java application server next week, employing a programming model claimed make life easier for developers creating web applications for large enterprises.
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The model, known as aspect-oriented programming (AOP), was developed about a decade ago at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), said Marc Fleury, founder and chief executive officer of JBoss Group.
Its use in JBoss 4.0 should make it easier for developers to build applications that include functions important for enterprises such as object persistence, caching and replication, he said.
JBoss competes with commercial application servers from BEA Systems, IBM, Sun Microsystems and others. JBoss Group makes money selling services and documentation around the open-source product. Its product has proved a popular development platform and the company hoped to expand its use in production environments at large businesses.
BEA, IBM and other commercial suppliers have been developing tools that try to simplify applications development using J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition). JBoss Group claims to be the only company following the AOP route, which Fleury described as "on a par with object-oriented programming". He also likened it to the programming model used in Microsoft's development tools.
"What it allows us to do in the Java camp is to do a lot of what .net Framework offers - ease of use and ease of programming," he said.
Supporting AOP in JBoss will allow developers to write simple Java objects and then apply more sophisticated enterprise functions later in the development process, turning those programs into J2EE applications, Fleury said.
JBoss Group believed government users, particularly in Europe but also in the US, would be interested in the product. It also claimed to have attracted a few large corporate customers.
However, the JBoss application server has not yet been certified as J2EE-compliant. JBoss has accused Sun of "stonewalling" its attempts to become certified, saying that its product "supports the J2EE 1.3 specification" even though it has not been certified by Sun.
Sun maintained it has given JBoss the opportunity to take its tests and to certify its product as J2EE-compliant. In March it extended an offer to JBoss to license the test suite, said Rick Saletta, Sun group marketing manager for softare sales and licensing.
Fleury said JBoss wanted to negotiate terms of the offer, including the price, and said he has had no luck trying to meet with senior Sun officials to discuss it.
The developer edition of JBoss 4.0 will be available as a free download next from the JBoss Group website and from SourceForge.net. The final version for deploying applications in production will be available in the fourth quarter.
James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service