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A Response to: EJB 3 and Spring Comparative Analysis

Last night I attended a New England Java User Group (NEJUG) meeting where Reza Rahman presented a "comparative analysis" of EJB 3 and Spring. Reza is one of the authors of EJB 3 in Action. I enjoyed meeting Reza and respect him for presenting what may be considered a controversial topic. Also I appreciate that he did attempt to address pros and cons for both EJB 3 and Spring. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to clarify a few points that were not wholly accurate in his coverage of Spring and which led me (and other attendees) to believe the presentation was motivated by a bias toward EJB 3. To be fair, unlike a fixed specification version, Spring is constantly evolving and some of the things that I will point out here are new features. On the other hand, some are Spring 2.0 features that have been available for more than a year. I personally believe that a "comparative analysis" must account for the up-to-date feature set of the latest stable version of the products being compared. I think it goes without saying that I might be a bit biased as well, but my motivation here is to provide a wholly objective response so that the presentation could perhaps be revised to reflect a more 'apples-to-apples' comparison. I will provide brief responses to 10 "themes" of the presentation.

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Spring Java Configuration Moving Ahead

Several users have asked whether we are committed to Spring Java Configuration, and how it sits with the annotation configuration option introduced in Spring 2.5. The answer is yes, we are committed to Java Config; and these two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

These two configuration approaches are quite different: the @Autowired annotation in the Spring Framework configures components using annotations in business objects, while Spring Java Config takes a unique approach of externalizing the annotations in dedicated configuration classes. Neither of these approaches is uniquely right or wrong, and they are compelling for different circumstances. There is even no reason that both couldn’t be used in the same application.

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Spring 2.5 RC1 is here - introducing new configuration approaches

As some of you will have noticed already, Spring 2.5 RC1 has finally been released on Monday and is waiting for you to give it a test drive! Spring 2.5 is in many ways the release that completes Spring 2.0’s mission: providing the most flexible and most comprehensive configuration model for both Java 1.4 and Java 5. Spring 2.5 focuses on particularly comprehensive support for Java 5, introducing various further annotations options. I’d like to take the opportunity to point out the unifying themes behind this release:

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The Spring Tool Suite

You may have seen some of the recent press surrounding the announcement that Interface21 is partnering with Tasktop to create a “Spring Tool Suite”. This suite will bring together Spring IDE, the AspectJ Development Tools (AJDT), AspectJ, and Mylyn to create a task-focused approach to the development of Spring-powered enterprise applications. We hope to have a preview of the integrated suite available to share with you at the forthcoming The Spring Experience conference, but in the meantime you’ll see many of the improvements flowing into the existing Spring IDE, AJDT, AspectJ, and Mylyn open source projects.

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Gartner Nails It on Innovation and Disruption

At last month's Gartner Open Source conference, analysts declared that open source had permeated a significant amount of the global software market. The details were highlighted in a recent Matt Asay blog that quotes the eWeek article. eWeek writes: “open-source products accounted for a 13 percent share of the $92.7 billion software market in 2006, but should account for 27 percent of the market in 2011 when revenue is expected to be $169.2 billion.”

At the same time, Gartner analysts Massimo Pezzini and Yefim Natis have published a report highlighting an important vein of disruption currently underway in the middleware and transaction processing markets. The September 24, 2007 report, titled “Trends in Platform Middleware: Disruption is in Sight,” highlights more than a dozen trends that “will disrupt the apparently static application server and transaction processing markets” and warns that “platform middleware users and vendors will be impacted and must delineate proper survival strategies.” Spring prominently is mentioned in four of the top 11 trends.

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Our approach to the JCP

As I’ve posted before, Interface21 is getting involved with the Java EE 6 effort, and various of our folk including myself, Juergen Hoeller, Keith Donald and Rob Harrop will be involved in a number of expert groups.

This means that we’re getting more involved with the JCP in general. We respect the confidentiality and other provisions of the JCP, so we won’t talk about anything that isn’t public. However, I would like to talk about our goals for JCP involvement and the fundamental approach we will bring. Of course we are just one company among many companies and individuals, so we will just be one voice, but this is what that voice will be seeking:

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The new bean() pointcut

Spring 2.5 features a new pointcut designator – bean() that allows selecting join points in beans with a matching name pattern. Now it is possible to use the auto-proxy mechanism along with Spring-AspectJ integration to select a specific bean even when there are more than one beans of a type. Earlier, you could use BeanNameAutoProxyCreator to achieve a similar result; however, that mechanism didn’t work with Schema-style or @AspectJ aspects.

Besides selecting a specific bean, this pointcut designator offers two interesting ways to select beans if you follow an appropriate naming convention:

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More nonsense about open source

In the aptly titled Nonsense about Interface21, a SourceLabs employee disagrees with my contention that commit rights are necessary to provide credible open source support.

Before I reply: I want to make again something completely clear that I already stated in my last blog, but seems to have been misinterpreted by some: Interface21 has no desire to prevent others making money from Spring. Our track record proves that. We welcome others writing about Spring and providing Spring services. Or basing products on Spring, like Matt Raible’s AppFuse. We wish them success. Spring has partly gotten where it’s gotten to through the richness of the ecosystem around it. As technologists and as a company we have always fostered that and we always will.

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Replies to Nonsense about Open Source

My blog a couple of months ago about models of open source businesses seems to have struck a chord. I’ve had many positive responses, and it prompted an interview request from a site called “How Software is Built”. My interview is here.

Finally someone from OpenLogic has posted an interesting reply. Bryan Noll left some comments in a reply to my blog that merit a proper response.

First and foremost, I think your assertion that it is not healthy for a project or open source in general when people who have no real investment in a particular project offer support for it is an interesting one… one I've not heard before. I think there's enough validity to it to make a company like ours consider it and genuinely examine our responsibility to the open source projects we support. The result of this examination, in my mind, would be a demonstrable policy OpenLogic would have in order to mitigate the potential concerns you're raising. I'm sure I don't know what exactly that would be, so allow me to be vague at this point. This dovetails nicely though into some of the issues I have with what you're saying.
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Maven Artifacts

Up to this point the Spring Portfolio Maven artifacts, especially the snapshots, were inconsitently created and scattered about in various locations. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been working to get the projects to be more consistent in the creation and uploading of these artifacts.

Maven Repositories

One of the most useful improvements to the Maven support in the Spring Portfolio is the use of consistent repository locations. There are three different repositories depending on your level of comfort with the code.

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