Create Better Web Applications With Java EE 6 Training

At Web Age Solutions, we have the challenging task of not only keeping up with technology specifications but whether clients are actually using those technologies.  We have started to see much more interest in Java EE 6 training on various platforms so this is obviously taking hold.

Java EE 6 had the unenviable distinction of being released pretty much right as companies were trying to dig out of the 2008-2009 economic downturn.  So even though it did take 1-2 years for all of the major server platforms to release versions that supported it, many clients were taking a “wait and see” approach to upgrading.  Since companies first have to upgrade to the most recent platform before they can even think about using the new technology that is available it has taken until now to really start seeing that take hold.  Even JBoss clients, which usually take a more “figure it out on our own” approach, are doing training to make sure they can fully take advantage of the latest JBoss version, including the very different administration model (which we cover in our WA2060 JBoss Administration and Clustering course).

One of the primary barriers to taking advantage of what the new platform can do is simply knowing what is available.  Quite often projects take an approach of “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” and don’t look for ways to improve and simplify their applications by leveraging new approaches to programming.  With Java EE 6 (and soon Java EE 7) continuing to expand the possibilities that are out there this is becoming more of an issue.  We are a long way from the days when only Servlets/JSP were “standard” and you needed a thick “patterns” book just to create your own web framework.

To further support those that might be looking for Java EE 6 training, I’ve updated all of our course maps for Java EE 6 training on the major platforms.  These course maps show a different path depending on if you are familiar with the big changes introduced in Java EE 5 since several clients often skip versions of a server and in particular we are seeing migration paths like WebSphere 6.1 –> WebSphere 8.x.  These course maps also mention some of the Spring 3 training classes we offer since clients sometimes do training in that area as well.

Java EE 6 Course Map for WebSphere 8.5

Java EE 6 Course Map for WebSphere 8.0

Java EE 6 Course Map for WebLogic 12c

Java EE 6 Course Map for JBoss

Looking to the future, the Java EE 7 specifications are finalized and servers are being updated right now to fully support them.  JBoss is as well and will probably be released early next year (they say this year but JBoss is always missing release deadlines).  The tricky thing is that the open source project is being renamed to “Wildfly” and the “JBoss” name will be reserved for only the supported version.  There is already a version mismatch between the two and now having two different names I think is going to cause more confusion but we will see.

As servers release support for Java EE 7 I think the goal is to try and release classes as early as possible.  This will depend somewhat of course on which servers release support first.  We are going to be working internally to develop ways where we can develop hands-on labs that are more modular and can be more easily reused in different courses so we can start developing those early and support more clients that are “early adopters” and want to upgrade quickly.  Java EE 7 contains a lot of updates as well so we are looking forward to introducing that to clients as they start moving to servers that support it!

Now we get to sit back and enjoy watching the “race” of which server supports Java EE 7 first.  Any bets?

What’s Happening With JBoss?

UPDATE (Aug 2012) – The officially supported JBoss EAP 6.0 is finally released.  People using the supported EAP version will have much less confusion and one of the goals of this article was to clear up confusion about what is happening with the open source and EAP versions and how they relate.

If you are going to be using the latest versions of JBoss training is really a requirement because there are LOTS of changes (for the better) and you might need to reinvent somewhat how you approach management of JBoss in various job roles.  Training will help get you there faster and spend less time trying to figure out the new platform.

 

One thing that I’ve found to be true for enterprise clients is people don’t always have time to keep up with what is going on in the cutting edge of technology because they are busy just trying to keep up with their own responsibilities.  Since we have a lot of clients that use JBoss I figure I would help bring everybody “up to speed” with what is happening with JBoss on the Java EE front.  There have been several developments recently and there will be more over the next several months.

The first thing to determine is what “edition” of JBoss you are talking about.  Ultimately this comes down to if you are paying RedHat/JBoss for a support subscription to access the “officially supported” version of JBoss.  This “officially supported” version of JBoss is the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP).  If you are not paying for a support subscription you are likely using the “free, open-source” version of JBoss Application Server (JBoss AS).

So what is the difference between the two?  Although these are both “JBoss” editions there are some important differences:

  • The JBoss EAP contains some version of JBoss AS.  You can find the relationship between the released versions here.
  • These editions are released at different times with JBoss EAP released sometime after the version of JBoss AS it contains.
  • The versions of these two JBoss “editions” do not often match.  They did match somewhat with JBoss 5.x but they do not match now.  More on this in a second.
  • The JBoss EAP is the only version that will often have bug fixes back-ported to older versions.  JBoss AS “may” have bug fix releases but it is often only applying bug fixes to the “next” version of JBoss AS.  If it is important to have bugs fixed in JBoss without moving to a new JBoss version or you compiling JBoss source code updates yourself the JBoss EAP is a great investment.
  • A JBoss EAP subscription includes access to the JBoss Operations Network which is a great product for managing and monitoring several JBoss servers.
  • The JBoss EAP includes and is verified against specific versions of other popular libraries like Hibernate and JBoss Seam.  Often fixes released to the JBoss EAP will include critical fixes for these included libraries also.  What versions of particular libraries are included is listed here.
  • The different versions of JBoss EAP and JBoss AS will be compliant and “certified” against different versions of Java Enterprise (Java EE).  This will be especially important for Java EE 6 as discussed next.

Current/Upcoming JBoss Versions

  • JBoss AS 5.1
  • JBoss EAP 5.1 – includes JBoss AS 5.1 internally
  • JBoss AS 6.0/6.1 – Not major internal changes although some changes in web service stack and JMS stack.  Good summary here. Will never be released as part of a supported JBoss EAP version.
  • JBoss AS 7.0 – Final/GA release available. Significant internal and administrative changes compared to JBoss AS 6.x.
  • JBoss AS 7.1 – Beta release available, not yet GA/Final. Significant internal and administrative changes compared to JBoss AS 6.x.
  • JBoss EAP 6.0 – not yet released (early 2012?). Will include JBoss AS 7.1 internally

JBoss AS Downloads

JBoss EAP Information

Java EE 6 Certification

The other thing that causes some issues right now is what it means to be “Java EE Certified” for Java EE 6.  Java EE 6 introduced the concept of “profiles” so that Java EE servers could be certified against a subset of the Java EE specifications but not against the “full profile” of all specifications.  This is important because some Java EE technologies like EJB 2.x Entity EJBs are on their way out anyway now that we have modern replacements like Java Persistence (JPA).  The only profile that Java EE 6 defined besides the “full profile” is the “Java EE 6 Web Profile”.

The following are some of the highlights of the Java EE 6 Web Profile (not a complete list but the major things):

  • Servlet 3.0
  • JSP 2.2
  • JSF 2.0
  • JPA 2.0
  • Contexts and Dependency Injection for the Java EE Platform 1.0 (CDI)
  • EJB 3.1 “Lite” (This includes basically only non-remote Session EJBs)

There are some significant technologies that are in the “full profile” but NOT required in the “Web Profile” (not a complete list but the major differences):

  • JMS
  • Web Services (JAX-WS, JAX-RS “RESTful”, and JAX-RPC)
  • All of EJB 3.1 (including 2.x Entity EJBs, Message Driven EJBs, EJB Timer)
  • JavaMail

So servers that are certified against the “Java EE 6 Web Profile” are only “required” to have a subset of Java EE 6 technologies.  Now most of the JBoss AS versions offer technologies above and beyond the Web Profile but JBoss AS 7.1 (which will be included in JBoss EAP 6.0) is the only version that will target certifying against the “Full” Java EE 6 profile.  There is a good discussion here about exactly what it means (for JBoss AS 6.x anyway) to have been tested against the Java EE 6 web profile but also offer additional technologies.  It is also interesting to note that in the downloads of JBoss AS there is a download for JBoss AS 7.0.x which is “Web Profile Only” and has been officially certified for Java EE 6 by Oracle and there is an “Everything” download which has additional technologies but is specifically advertised as not being officially certified.

JBoss Versions and Java EE Certification

  • JBoss AS 5.1 – Java EE 5 Certified
  • JBoss EAP 5.1 – Java EE 5 Certified
  • JBoss AS 6.0/6.1 – Not officially certified for Java EE 6 Web Profile but tested internally by JBoss against the web profile test suite
  • JBoss AS 7.0.x – Officially certified for Java EE 6 Web Profile. An “Everything” download available with more
  • JBoss AS 7.1.x – Will be certified against “Full Java EE 6 profile”. Good description of the strategy here.
  • JBoss EAP 6.0 – Will be certified against “Full Java EE 6 profile”. Good description of the strategy here.

JBoss Versions and Support/Bug Fixes

Finally, I think the other consideration that will be important to people when switching will be consideration of how they will deal with the inevitable problems/questions that come up and how confident they might be about the software being fixed with bugs.  For those that this issue is mission critical, I would again highly suggest looking into a subscription to the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform.  This is the only form of JBoss that will have a support service level agreement and where bugs will be backported to previous versions for several years according to the JBoss Enterprise Middleware support policy.

When using one of the JBoss AS releases the only “support” that is available is from the JBoss Community and any available JBoss AS Documentation.  For users of JBoss AS I think it is important to consider the level of support from the JBoss community since that support comes primarily from three sources:

  • Other JBoss users that may have similar issues/questions
  • JBoss AS developers working on the open source project
  • JBoss EAP staff working on support of JBoss EAP specifically

Of course this community support would also apply to clients of the JBoss EAP since it is based on a version of JBoss AS and would be useful above and beyond the normal “official” support available for JBoss EAP.

The other thing to consider is if there have been bug fix releases of the JBoss AS versions or not.

Thoughts on Level of Community Support/Bug Fix Releases for JBoss AS Versions

  • JBoss AS 5.1 – No bug fix releases.  Still lots of users using this version, JBoss AS developers not as active, JBoss EAP staff active as it is part of a supported JBoss EAP version.
  • JBoss AS 6.x – 6.1 is a bug fix release of 6.0 but is the only one.  Lots of users on this one based on downloads, JBoss AS developers and JBoss EAP staff not as active since this version is very different than JBoss AS 7.x and JBoss AS 6.x will never be part of a supported JBoss EAP release.
  • JBoss AS 7.x – This has already had two 7.0.x bug fix releases in only two months which is better than previous JBoss AS versions.  Lots of community activity from users and JBoss AS developers.  JBoss EAP staff also likely active getting ready to include JBoss AS 7.1 in JBoss EAP 6.0.

Conclusions

So where does this leave you as a JBoss user?  What version should you be using now or planning to move to?  Every situation is different based on different factors like:

  • Are you migrating existing applications or developing new applications?
  • Do you use technologies that are not required by the Java EE 6 Web Profile?
  • Do you have applications that depend only on the Java EE specifications or do they utilize internal JBoss infrastructure (like custom “JBoss SAR” or “Service Archives”)?
  • How much do you need to configure administratively outside of your deployed applications (EAR, WAR, etc) and how hard would it be to determine how to configure those in a new version?
  • How important is “Full Java EE 6” certification compared to “Java EE 6 Web Profile” certification for you?
  • How important is the support offered by JBoss EAP?
  • Is there some kind of deadline you are working under that might prevent you from waiting for JBoss AS 7.1 or JBoss EAP 6 and the certification of the full Java EE 6 profile that would bring?

Certainly without knowledge of your particular situation it would be unwise for me to offer any kind of direct suggestion here.  In general though I might be hesitant to use JBoss AS 6, at least for very long, as this is not getting the attention of as many from the JBoss AS developer or JBoss EAP support staff groups and JBoss has decided that they will not release it as part of any supported platform.  There is also some question about using anything like JBoss AS 6.0 or JBoss AS 7.0 which is not certified against the full profile but offers varying degrees of additional features between the two Java EE 6 profiles.

For those that might value stability and Java EE certification above all else, and who do not have to start using new Java EE 6 features on some tight deadline, I might hold out for JBoss AS 7.1 or JBoss EAP 6.0.  You could even start investigating that migration now with the release of JBoss AS 7.1.0.Beta1!

JBoss 5.1 Web Services Class Released

Although JBoss 5.1 has been available for a while, I was surprised that we had not had requests for our JBoss 5.1 Web Service development class, WA1719 Programming Advanced JAX-WS Web Services on JBoss 5.1.  We have just released this class and looking back I think it was a good thing that it was not released right after the JBoss 5.1 server was available.

One thing that has happened with JBoss Web Services (JBossWS) is the fact that they will be slowly moving away from providing the three web service “stacks” that they had provided previously, which were “Native”, JBossWS-CXF based on Apache CXF, and JBossWS-Metro based on Glassfish Metro.  This effort to integrate with three different web service environments was obviously difficult to maintain and update so the announcement was made that JBoss would eventually begin moving to supporting just one JBoss Web Service stack, JBossWS-CXF based on Apache CXF.  Although not released yet, apparently the only supported version of web services in the supported JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 6.0 will be JBossWS-CXF.  Also, even though it is not the “default”, JBossWS-CXF is fully supported on the JBoss EAP 5.1.  The JBossWS-CXF stack is also the only one available on the latest version of the open-source version of JBoss, JBoss Application Server 7.0.

So this brings me to the main reason I’m glad we waited until now to release the JBoss 5.1 web service class, we have released the class showing how to develop JBoss web services with the web service “stack of the future” JBossWS-CXF.  Although “basic” web services only use standard JAX-WS web service code with all of the stacks there is some difference between the stacks, especially in configuration, when you get to advanced topics like WS-Security, WS-RM (Reliable Messaging), etc.  So by showing students how to use Apache-CXF to develop JBoss web services they will be learning how to write more “future proof” web services.  Clients using JBoss for web services will have to go through a migration process to CXF at some point so our new JBoss 5.1 web service course, WA1719, allows that to happen now.

Besides focusing on developing Apache CXF web services for JBoss, our new course also expands the focus on advanced web service topics.  The differentiation between web service platforms, and the area that is often server-specific, is how to implement some of the more advanced “WS-*” specifications.  These are things like WS-Security for web service security, WS-Addressing for asynchronous web service invocation, WS-RM for reliable web service messages, and MTOM, or Message Transmission Optimization, for sending more efficient web service messages that include binary data.  We have spent time researching the “best” way to implement these advanced web service features using JBoss and Apache CXF in a way that is as close to possible to “standard” code and enables these features purely with CXF configuration where possible so that what is JBoss/CXF-specific is isolated and would be easy to modify if moving to a different platform.  Many times this research and experimentation revealed gaps in the current JBoss/CXF documentation and our course, especially the extensive hands-on labs, fills in these gaps with information students will find immensely valuable.

All in all, I believe our new JBoss 5.1 web services course, WA1719, is second to none.  We have spent time assembling information that developers of JBoss web services will need to know when working with web services in a JBoss environment.  Even the official JBoss training courses from RedHat do not offer the depth of coverage on web services our new course does.  Since implementing advanced web service features is what would take the most time and research from developers this is where we have concentrated our efforts in expanding the course to provide a “fast track” to the most useful information.  Web services have quickly become an integral part of any Java Enterprise applications so if you want to stay ahead of this fast changing area of the JBoss platform contact us to learn more about taking our new JBoss 5.1 web service development course.