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BEA WebLogic Workshop Kick Start

BEA WebLogic Workshop Kick Start

I learned about WebLogic Workshop in December of 2001 while interviewing BEA CTO Scott Dietzen. At the time, it was code-named Cajun and, according to Scott, the tool would revolutionize Web services and J2EE development. Cajun has since been renamed BEA WebLogic Workshop and become an integral part of BEA's strategy, which focuses on making J2EE and Web services easy for beginners as well as experienced developers.

In BEA WebLogic Workshop Kick Start (hereon referred to as Workshop Kick Start), authors Joseph Weber and Mark Wutka have written a book that harmonizes with BEA's vision and will surely become an integral part of any effort utilizing Web services on BEA's platform. The book focuses on Web services developers who range in Java and J2EE experience from beginner to expert. Workshop Kick Start has nice appendices for reference on common Java language constructs, XML basics, WSDL (Web Service Description Language), and SOAP, so the essential technologies for getting started with Web services on WebLogic are covered.

The book is divided into three parts. The first section introduces you to Web services WebLogic Workshop. The second covers building applications with features such as controls, debugging, and database access, essentials in most enterprise-level Web services. Finally, Workshop Kick Start walks you through advanced features offered by WebLogic Workshop such as accessing EJBs, asynchronous communication via JMS, and accessing your Web services from different clients. It finishes up with an online ordering application to show a fully operational application built on WebLogic Workshop.

Weber and Wutka do a fine job of introducing each section and laying the foundation for the topics covered. For instance, in section one they cover the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous versus asynchronous Web services with neutrality, even though BEA's focus is on asynchrony for its integration and reliability qualities. Following the discussions, you are led through basic examples utilizing nearly every feature of WebLogic Workshop.

Although not an exhaustive list, the WebLogic Workshop features covered in Workshop Kick Start include creating and customizing projects; BEA's Java Web Service files (.jws); using Workshop controls such as the Timer, Database, Service, JMS, and EJB control; and developing, testing, and debugging within WebLogic Workshop's Design and Source Views.

Workshop for Everyone
Experienced developers often fear that development tools, which hide complexity, will compromise their control over the application. Just to eliminate the skepticism here and now, I will say that BEA WebLogic Workshop has done an awesome job of hiding the complexity in a nonintrusive fashion. For instance, the concept of "controls" to access J2EE constructs such as sending and reading from JMS Topics and Queues, or accessing EJBs, makes even inexperienced J2EE developers effective at their tasks. However, these controls are described via @JavaDoc tags or metadata in comments, which is a nonintrusive means of describing the attributes of the controls. Although property sheets in the Design View configure the Web service visually, experienced developers can code in the Source View and simply type in the metadata tags to configure controls without the visual Designer. Workshop Kick Start walks you through exactly how to utilize both the Designer View for visual development as well as the hard-core @JavaDoc tags that the experienced developers will choose.

Workshop Examples Abound
Workshop Kick Start comes with an install CD, so don't waste your time downloading the over 280MB WebLogic Platform 7.0 from BEA's site. Instead, just pop in the CD, install WebLogic Platform 7.0, and request an evaluation license from BEA. It comes with BEA EvalNet to support you during your evaluation of the software!

To help guide you through WebLogic Workshop's features, the book incorporates examples both from the standard WebLogic 7.0 install and custom examples from the authors themselves. Don't rely on the book for the location of the sample code! It says the code exists on Sams Publishing's Web site, but it isn't there. Instead, save your Internet bandwidth once again and just copy it from the install CD provided with the book.

Once you have everything installed, you are ready to work through the book's examples chapter by chapter. I found the examples to be a great introduction to the features of WebLogic Workshop, but as an experienced developer I wanted more. Granted, the book provides you with everything you need to develop Web services, ranging from simple to complex. However, WebLogic Workshop offers much more than what the book covers. I recommend you also refer to the documentation as you work through the exercises in the book. This documentation may shed light on outstanding questions you have, like "Why doesn't my TopicReceiver.jws receive any messages from my JMS Topic?" Well, maybe it's because the example code in the book missed a step. It doesn't show you how to subscribe to the Topic. That aside, the examples are quite intuitive and function just fine in the Workshop Test View.

IMHO
Get this book if you are going to work with Web services on BEA WebLogic Platform 7.0. BEA is focusing its energy on making J2EE and Web services development easy and Workshop is central to this strategy. If you are an experienced J2EE developer with no Web services experience, you'll be able to develop complex BEA WebLogic Workshop Web services in a few days. If you are new to both J2EE and Web services, you'll be productively accessing prebuilt J2EE components in a matter of hours. To that end, I salute the authors of BEA WebLogic Workshop Kick Start for a fine book and BEA for a great Web services and J2EE development environment.

Publisher:
Sams Publishing, 2002

ISBN: 0-672-32417-2

SRP: $34.99

Authors:
Joseph Weber, Mark Wutka with Foreword from Carl Sjogreen, product manager for WebLogic Workshop

To order this book, please visit www.samspublishing.com

More Stories By Jason Westra

Jason Westra is the CTO of Verge Technologies Group, Inc. (www.vergecorp.com). Verge is a Boulder, CO based firm specializing in eBusiness solutions with Enterprise JavaBeans.

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