timothy falconer's semantic weblog
Big Fractal Tangle

Java EE 6

When I said in the last post that I needed to pick up my worn out tools, I probably should have said rusted. All the important skills are still sharp: architecture, interface design, marketing sense. It’s the low level skills that need updating.

The last time I was cutting edge from a tools standpoint is 2006, which in my business is a dog’s age. Once was a time where I devoured a new technical book every other month. Now, for half a decade, I’ve been using Java EE 4 with EJB 2.1 and Struts 1.0.2. I’m even using CVS (not Subversion) and Ant (not Maven). For those who know, these are positively archaic technologies which have been replaced by better alternatives.

Many tools such as Spring and Hibernate were created to deal with the limitations of Java EE 4 (aka J2EE 1.4). After years of practical use, the Java community finally got around to improving Java EE itself, using many of the ideas of from Spring, Hibernate, and other tools. The result was Java EE 5 and later Java EE 6, which from what I can tell so far, are vast improvements, though incremental ones.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been reading Beginning Java EE 6 with GlassFish 3 by Antonio Goncalves. I’m working my way through JPA right now (Java Persistence API), which is Java EE’s answer to Hibernate. Having used Hibernate a bit, along with many other OODBs and ORMs, I’m enjoying the clarity of the spec. I’m looking forward to ripping up my EJB 2.1 code and replacing it with JPA code.

The other big, big change is the new JavaServer Faces, which is Java’s answer to Struts and friends. I did use Struts 2 a few years ago on another project, so am more current in the web page rendering world. I’ll let you know how JSF fares, whether it’s worth the effort to switch.

I’m hoping I can upgrade to a complete, compliant, Java EE stack, which gives me the benefit of swapping implementations relatively painlessly. I’ll try the new stuff on JBoss, GlassFish, and Resin, just to see how they compare, which is a wonderful benefit of open standards. You can wax poetically about open source all you like. I’ll take open standards over open source any day.

Anyway, time to rip up some floor boards and see what kind of mess I can make.

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