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Oh Beehive!

Oh Beehive!

It wasn't all that long ago, the last issue of WLDJ if I am not mistaken, that I expressed my dismay over why so few projects in my travels were using WebLogic Workshop as the primary development IDE. And only a few readers sent in e-mails regarding their reasons for choosing another IDE over Workshop - some of which had a lot of merit (actually, all of them did). And, not being too far removed from the subject, I just happen to be on a WebLogic development project where I came in midpoint through development, and - you guessed it - Workshop was not being used.

The poor IDE: so powerful and yet slighted by the development community, partly due to a lack of familiarity and perhaps because it does too much - in a sense becoming proprietary in nature. And then, lo and behold, BEA makes their announcement that they will be donating major parts of Workshop, mainly the development framework - code named "Beehive" - to the open source community.

This, of course, is on the heels of a major drop in the BEA stock price, coupled with market share losses due to fierce competition from companies such as IBM and from open source solutions such as JBoss.

You may wonder - and so do I - what's going on here? A company that not too long ago had a major hold on the Java application server market is now watching things slip through their fingers and is about to give away the one thing that they thought would provide them with an edge over the competition - the rapid development and deployment capabilities of WebLogic Workshop and its underlying development framework. I've heard a number of different opinions regarding whether a company today can survive primarily by selling Java application servers, and in my opinion application servers are taking the same path as the browser did a few years ago. Netscape was once in a similar situation and had the world in its hand, until, of course, the competition showed up.

Eventually, the Java application server will become part of the overall infrastructure, a commodity based on standards that allow J2EE applications to be deployed in any environment. And the innovations inherent in Workshop: off to a better acceptance through the open source community, and hopefully fueling the desire for developers to use Workshop over development tools such as JBuilder. You would assume, though, that the open software community would go ahead and develop a full IDE that would work on the framework, and it would not cost you a dime.

Where this will all go and how well BEA will benefit is anyone's guess, but to bank your future on an IDE, in my opinion, may be a little risky. Let's not forget that the real benefit from products such as Workshop are their ability to provide an integrated development environment for service-oriented architecture and process flow-based systems. Perhaps Workshop is a tool that is a little ahead of itself, something for the not-too-distant future, when a greater number of systems under development utilize Web services and process management engines, and the rest of us are still developing simpler J2EE applications. Where we don't need anything fancy to do our development, and off-the-shelf application servers will do.

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
Joe Black 01/25/05 09:57:59 AM EST

When everyone is looking at building applications using so called IDE and then integrating them all using some EAI or Messaging technology, Workshop provides a way to integrate the applications while building that too in rapid manner. Sure Workshop is ahead of the game. To preach the innovation to the community the open source stand has been taken. I second Peter's comment and partially disagree to Joe's comments.

albatross 05/21/04 08:44:33 AM EDT

But I want to *pay* for software. Don''t you guys get it?

Grow up? How can an industry survive without a revenue stream? Outsourcing is a symptom of the long-term disease of not paying for software. The denial is so strong that free of charge is regarded as some kind of virtue. We''ve been had.

Peter Karlsson 05/21/04 08:09:12 AM EDT

Joe, you got it all backwards and upside down. From what I''ve heard the single most important reason for open-sourcing the Workshop Framework is that BEA can''t afford to wait for the standardization path to be completed. The rest, read IBM are doing their best to put suitable obsticles in BEAs path and instead promote their own open source tool Eclipse.
So open-sourcing the Workshop framework is a way for BEA to promote cutting edge technology whilst avoiding the vendor lock-in discussion.
In the end this will benefit everyone. The developers and ISV''s will get a powerful framework for free. The customer will get cheaper software faster. The J2EE community can take on the MS battle more efficiently and BEA can sell WebLogic Platform (which BTW is much more than an app.server) for enterprise customers. Those with less money can use Tomcat and use the very same Workshop framework for relevant parts of their application. I really can''t see any losers in this.
So the Netscape analogy is far-fetched at the best. This is a Co knowing exactly what needs to be done and executes well on that vision.
But I have to agree with one point and that is that the market might not be ready for the Workshop vision where all kinds of development and integration comes together in an easy to use environment. That however will change in the near future, we can''t affort to waste time and money building software systems like we have for the last 30+ years, it''s time to grow up and become an industry. They way to do that is simple yet hard, we need to be able to build component based systems where re-use is an architectural foundation not a vision. Workshop and the Behive framework might very well be that road to success.

krishnan 05/21/04 05:24:56 AM EDT

i agree with Joe. I see BEA going down like Netscape.Just by sellig application server they have no chance of winning the app server market esp from their rivals IBM who seem to be giving App server for free or at a discount to some of their clients when the clients purchase some of their h/ware of services.

I think BEA would have come up with some great ideas if they are to survive this battle. The could probably look ahead in the future and work on some of the emerging concepts like Utility computing, grid computing etc and try to come back. All the best to them.

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