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Workshop on My Mind

Workshop on My Mind

Over the past several months, I've had the opportunity to interface with several BEA WebLogic project teams and ask how they do their development. One question I usually bring up, mainly out of curiosity, is whether or not they decided to use BEA WebLogic Workshop as part of their overall development strategy. As you may already know, Workshop is designed to streamline the overall development effort and can provide substantial improvements in programmer productivity along with streamlining the configuration and deployment process. In theory, the decision to use Workshop as the IDE of choice for BEA WebLogic development should be a no-brainer. But what is really happening out in the field?

Well, the result of my impromptu, and albeit unscientific, survey shows something quite unexpected. In one case, the project team was involved in developing a portal-like application that would be deployed to a WebLogic 8.1 application server. Okay, you would think using BEA WebLogic Portal along with the Java Page Flow designer tool, both integrated quite nicely in Workshop, would be the logical choice. To my surprise, the architects decided to develop the application using Struts and were not planning to use WebLogic Portal at all. Their reasons were as follows. They wanted a pure J2EE design with the ability to deploy the application to any J2EE-compliant Java application server, including Tomcat. I guess they weren't aware that you aren't locked into using the BEA WebLogic Server for Workshop-developed front-end applications.

In another encounter with a WebLogic development team, I found a similar shying away from using Workshop, but for other reasons. In this case, the development team was involved more on the back end with message processing using Web services and EJB components (including message-driven beans). The reasons this time had to do with the performance and overall stability of the Workshop IDE itself. According to one of the developers, it has nice time-saving features, but it tends to be a resource hog, and bogs the system down. It also tends to freeze up from time to time. Consequentially, the development team is using JBuilder instead.

So, what's going on here? Did I just happen to stumble on a few development teams who aren't completely sold on the full capabilities of the BEA WebLogic product line, or is it more of a trend? Pondering the situation, I thought of a few reasons that would explain it. Since J2EE and associated technologies like Web services are based on open standards, each development team is ultimately free to pick and choose what they feel would be the best combination of tools and design techniques to get the job done. I would think in a number of cases development teams will choose solutions they are familiar with and that have a proven track record. An architect may also decide to go with an open source solution, like the team using Struts, because of the unique and robust design brought on by the contributions from the best and the brightest in the industry. Now, if this were Microsoft, there wouldn't be too many options when it comes to development. You basically use Visual Studio along with any plug-ins you can find, and that's it. In the J2EE world, you can get by with a simple text editor and a set of JAR files downloaded from Apache. Opposite ends of the spectrum.

I hope in the future more development teams will catch on and discover the robust capabilities of BEA WebLogic Workshop and that BEA will improve Workshop efficiency in upcoming releases so that developers with less than stellar workstations can make use of it.

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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Most Recent Comments
anild 08/18/04 08:29:23 PM EDT

I feel workshop as an IDE is still not mature enough.I moved from sp1 to sp2 and now to sp3. Each version needs one or other patch for bugs. Moreover it is not a complete development tool. For eg to develop cutom ejb''s I still use Jbuilder. Not to mention how much resource hog it is when tryiung to run the ide and development server on the same machine.

JimH 08/12/04 10:38:38 PM EDT

We have been using WLW for the last six weeks with a large project previously maintained using JBuilder. Our biggest problem is stability. WLW has several bugs causing it to become unstable where we typically have to quit and restart in order to get it to operate properly. This of course never happens with JBuilder and has been a real turn off for the team of developers seriously trying to use Workshop. (This is with WLW SP3. WLW SP2 had even more issues).

It is very likely that we will be back to giving Borland our dollars for development environments, as WLW is not ready for use in a serious development project.

jarcher 05/21/04 10:20:52 AM EDT

albatross - WLW does nothing but build an ANT file for its build. As a matter of fact you can export it and modify it to you hearts content. Read about it here http://e-docs.bea.com/workshop/docs81/doc/en/workshop/guide/howdoi/howUs...

albatross 05/18/04 09:23:52 AM EDT

Server''s great, but we avoid WLW as much as we can. We use JBuilder and invest learning in that tool.

In the past, I was looking for a top-level declaration of what an application is doing, tag-based. Not JPF.

Please give us an Ant file to build applications--the workshop build is encoded in java--in class files--the build is a proprietary java program (this is nuts).

WLW should not try to talk to the server. I never have both WLW and the Server running at the same time because I can never get anything accomplished.

We just try to get around WLW as much as we can, using it only to do the application tasks that we have no other way to do.

Art Schloth 05/18/04 08:09:30 AM EDT

I choose to use WL Workshop for some aspects of development and choose not to use if for other aspects. My biggest complaint is the meta language used in WL workshop compiles to class files, and not source code. I don''t like the fact that you create a "control" and then behind the scenes an ejb, jms queue, and a web service is created, and you have no idea this happens unless you analyze the config.xml or console. If the meta language compiled into source code, I would probably use it much more often. I think you guys are close to having a really great product.

I also decided to use Struts instead of flows. It is easier to upgrade if you use Struts rather than upgrading all your flows from Portal 4.0 to Portal 8.1

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