Addressing a Big New Audience: VMware Acquires WaveMaker

Engineering | Rod Johnson | March 08, 2011 | ...

Today, VMware announces with this blog the acquisition of WaveMaker, a widely used graphical tool that enables non-expert developers to build web applications quickly.  While WaveMaker is already part of the Spring ecosystem, it will now become an integral part of the Spring family and VMware’s cloud strategy. All of WaveMaker’s staff will be joining VMware.

This acquisition furthers VMware’s cloud application platform strategy by empowering additional developers to build and run modern applications that share information with underlying infrastructure to maximize performance, quality of service and infrastructure utilization.

Where It Fits In

Over the last 8 years, Spring has made building Java applications dramatically easier.  The first wave of Spring adopters were advanced developers who understood the previous generation EJB technology in detail and sought a superior replacement.  In some cases, they became Spring developers themselves. The next wave were mainstream business application developers focused on implementing business requirements, without specialist knowledge of infrastructure.  As the Spring community grew further to several million, and Spring was mandated as the development solution in more and more organizations, it grew to embrace developers with a wide range of skills.  Each version of Spring made applications simpler and reduced the amount of code and configuration required; the emergence of Grails and Spring Roo also helped streamline the daily work of developers at all skills levels.

We’ve always had a great story for professional software developers. However, not all business applications are written by specialist developers. For example, anyone who’s worked in the financial services industry knows how much functionality is implemented by business people using Excel spreadsheets. Particularly in the case of web applications, many solutions can be delivered or pulled together from other components by business developers—dashboards, for example.

The Vision

I’ve always believed that we should eventually provide Spring-based technology to enable less technical users to build such applications, increasing the value of the Spring platform and enabling many business problems to be solved most cheaply.  In practice, this means introducing visual tooling to take the place of coding, in areas (such as UI design) where automation is possible.  Done right, such automation can even benefit professional developers, for certain classes of application.

Enter WaveMaker.

WaveMaker is a proven, browser-based visual tool for building Spring applications.

With WaveMaker we can create a unique opportunity for coding and non-coding developers to collaborate on the Spring platform, providing large business value.

Traditionally the Achilles heel of such approaches is that the visual tooling produces applications that developers won’t want to hand edit—meaning that once the non-technical staff hit a wall and need further modifications to the application, specialist developers can’t help without reimplementing the application from scratch.

We chose WaveMaker because with it, we can avoid this problem.  A WaveMaker application is a Spring application.  Going forward, we will ensure that WaveMaker applications keep up-to-date with Spring best practices and innovations.

Like Spring, WaveMaker is open source and has a growing community. Over the last 12 months it’s seen a dramatic upswing in adoption, with 135K downloads per month. Let me be the first to welcome the WaveMaker community into the SpringSource family and to encourage the SpringSource community to take a look at how to get started with WaveMaker.

What Next?

We’re excited about the future. Some of the highlights you can expect:
  • Close alignment with Spring Roo will ensure consistent architecture between Spring Roo and WaveMaker applications and enable developers to work on WaveMaker applications at three levels: in traditional code-only style; in code-oriented fashion turbo-charged by Spring Roo; and with the WaveMaker graphical environment.  This will be a uniquely compelling set of choices.
  • WaveMaker as a service will fit naturally with our cloud computing strategy, including Code2Cloud.
  • Currently WaveMaker builds applications using as inputs database tables and web service endpoints. We have lots more Spring goodness to work with. We will enrich this functionality through exposing many other features of Spring, such as Spring Integration and Spring Social endpoints, along with other cloud services.
This is going to be a big year for Spring and VMware cloud-related technologies.  With the WaveMaker acquisition, we’ll be able to bring the impact of our new technologies to an even larger audience.

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