Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 WebSphere Application Server Highlights

This blog post isn't meant to "market" our app server portfolio; although I worry it may come across that way. I wanted to take a look back at 2009 and talk about some of the technologies that matter to our application server customers in case you missed the announcements. Feel free to ask questions on specific items if you don't understand the value you can derive from these technologies.

Building upon the WAS V7.0 release, three feature packs were delivered - Communication Enabled Applications (CEA), XML, and Service Component Architecture (SCA). These feature packs are free add-ons that extend the value of your application server product to support innovative and valuable programming models. CEA adds the ability to do common telecommunication scenarios without having to understand underlying SIP technologies (just add a widget to a page to get click to all for example). XML delivers XPath 2.0, XSLT 2.0, and XQuery 1.0 allowing data and document centric applications to benefit from these W3C standards resulting in simpler, more functional and reliable applications. SCA simplifies composite application assembly and management, supports OSOA standards, and allows applications to more quickly adapt to changing business requirements based upon OSOA standards.

Two other major features were delivered on top of the application server - Optimized Local Adapters (OLA) and SAML. Optimized Local Adapters offer a high speed message connection between the application server on z/OS and native language programs with full quality of service. SAML adds OASIS SAML Token Profile to standard JAX-WS web services providing for end to end security with token propagation along with a Java library that allows you to work with SAML tokens.

Two alphas of feature packs were also delivered. We shipped our Apache OpenJPA based JPA 2.0 implementation in the JPA 2.0 Feature Pack. We also delivered early support for the OSGi Blueprint specification and Apache Aries extending the value of OSGi componentization and dependency injection into WebSphere applications via the OSGi Applications Feature Pack.

Finally, four service packs were delivered for the 7.0 release (the latest being

We also delivered the application server in Hypervisor Edition (doing things you'd want a virtualized image to do correctly). Fixpacks delivered throughout the year added support for VMware and AIX/PowerVM. We also delivered the WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance which allows you to securely and reliably manage your virtualized environment in your own private cloud.

We also allowed WAS to be consumed in two different ways. We announced an easy to download and free WebSphere Application Server for Developers. We also provided Amazon EC2 images to allow you to consume WAS in the public cloud.

We also provided for easy migration of applications from competitive application servers via the Migration Toolkit.

What a year 2009 was. I'm sure 2010 will be just as fruitful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

IBM brings the power of OSGi to WebSphere

Back in 2006 we rebased WebSphere Application Server on OSGi in order to help us deliver a better application server. In 2009 we are bringing the power of OSGi to help you build better applications.

The IBM WebSphere Application Server V7 OSGi Applications Open Alpha program introduces to the application server the ability to build, deploy and run applications running on OSGi. Building on the work done in the OSGi Alliance Enterprise Expert Group (EEG) and in the Apache Aries incubator the alpha allows you to build modular applications that make use of familiar JEE technologies such as Servlets, JSPs and JPA.

There are many advantages to the support we are delivering in this alpha, some highlights include:
  • The ability to deploy a WAR file into the OSGi environment
  • Blueprint Container - A Spring-like Dependency Injection based container integrated with the OSGi service registry and standardized by the OSGi Alliance
  • The ability to share libraries between applications
  • Application composition by reference
  • The ability to provision an application based on the application dependencies and the content of an OSGi bundle repository
The alpha is available and includes some samples to get you going. We have also shipped the product documentation as a PDF and the Apache Aries site includes some information on the application model.

There has already been some coverage on the web about what we are doing in the alpha and I wanted to highlight two in particular. The first is a blog post by Kirk Knoernschild, who is giving a keynote at OSGi DevCon London in February. The other is an article on dzone where Ian Robinson is interviewed about the alpha.

Since I have mentioned it if you are in London in February some of my team are going to be at OSGi DevCon London running a tutorial on using Blueprint. In addition David Bosschaert one of the OSGi Alliance EEG co-chairs will be talking about the OSGi 4.2 Enterprise Release and we will be talking about the Apache Aries incubator.


Friday, December 18, 2009

RAD 7.5.5 adds support for XPath 2.0 and XSLT 2.0

Today, RAD 7.5.5 became available. Of interest to WebSphere XML customers, you'll see major new function in the XML areas to complement the features provided by the Feature Pack for XML.

IBM Rational Application Developer 7.5.5 provides enhancements to the existing XSLT 1.0 and XPath 1.0 authoring tools to support XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0, as well as the ability to program against the new IBM XML API and invoke the XML runtime provided by the WAS Feature Pack for XML. Developer benefits include: the ability to work seamlessly with XSLT 1.0 and 2.0 artifacts using a consistent set of tools, the ability to author - create, edit, validate - XSLT 2.0 artifacts, the ability to invoke the XSLT 1.0 or 2.0 processor with ease using the enhanced XSLT launch configuration and the ability to easily configure a project's classpath to program against the new XML Application Programming Interface.

There is more info on what's new here.

- You can now compile and integrate XSL 1.0 and 2.0 stylesheet documents into Java projects. This new functionality automatically handles classpath and runtime configurations. Also, a new option is available to incorporate a Java utility class is offered so that you can integrate compiled stylesheets.
- The Expression Builder tool in the XSL Editor now supports as-you-type evaluation for XPath 1.0 and 2.0.
- The XSL Editor now supports grammars for XSL versions 1.0 and 2.0. Content assist has been enhanced to incorporate better prefix handling, customized icons and detailed descriptions for all XSL element suggestions. Version sensitive file decorations are now available for XSL documents.
- You can now run XSLT 2.0 transformations.
- Content assist for XPath 2.0 and XSLT 2.0 functions in the XSL editor and XPath Expression Builder is now available.
- The XSLT validator now supports both XSLT 1.0 and XSLT 2.0, and provides build, manual and as-you-type validation. The validator helps you ensure that your XSLT documents are correct according to the XSLT 1.0 or 2.0 specifications.
- XSL templates are now available that can be added to new XSL files from the New XSL wizard. The templates can also be inserted into XSL files through the content-assist feature in the XSL editor.
You can modify the XSL templates through XML preferences page (Window > Preferences > XML > XSL> Editor > Templates).
- A new XSLT 2.0 sample is available that demonstrates the XSLT 2.0 transformation using context menu and Java code.

There are many other improvements and new features in RAD 7.5.5 and I expect Tim or I will blog about them in an upcoming blog post.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Application Migration Tool

Ideally, one of your J2EE applications deployed on one certified application server can be taken as-is and moved to another certified application server. However, that is almost never the reality. Whether it is caused by developers taking advantage of a certain vendor’s conveniences/optimizations or application artifacts generated by the container (web services stubs, compiled JSPs, etc.), there is usually something that ties your J2EE application to a particular platform. In WebSphere, we’ve acknowledged this problem and we are doing something to make it easier to move applications from competitive application servers to the WebSphere Application Server.

The Application Migration Tool is part of the IBM WebSphere Application Server Migration Toolkit which provides assistance in moving your J2EE applications from competitive application server products to the WebSphere Application Server. This new tool is built on the IBM Rational Software Analyzer and uses its scanning capabilities to look for data specific to competitive application servers. It then provides a way to change and review this data so it can run on the WebSphere Application Server. In support of migrating applications to our server, changes can be made to java source code, JSPs, and deployment descriptors within an application.

The current version of the Application Migration Tool supports migrating J2EE 1.4 (and prior versions) applications from the Oracle WebLogic Server to the WebSphere Application Server. The tool focuses on several aspects of the application migration process including setting up the application classpath, converting WebLogic-specific classes, refactoring non-portable JNDI lookups, converting JSPs, deployment descriptors, and java package references to support industry standards, and creating the necessary artifacts for web services deployment (WSDL, service endpoint interface, mapping files, etc.). Additional manual steps may be required when migrating your application, but the tool will handle the most common migration actions. In short, the toolkit provides you with a fast path to move your applications to the WebSphere Application Server platform.

The Application Migration Tool is free and you can find download and installation instructions on the toolkit’s web page. The only prerequisite for the toolkit is an Eclipse IDE (3.4.2 or higher), which is also available for free. In addition, if you have an existing Rational Application Developer environment, you can install the toolkit into that environment. The toolkit is supported by IBM through either your existing support entitlement, or through a completely free forum.

If you are currently running J2EE applications in an Oracle WebLogic environment, I would encourage you to try out this migration toolkit to find out just how easy it is to move those applications over to the WebSphere Application Server platform. If you don’t currently have access to our application server, don’t let that stop you. Download the fully-functional WebSphere Application Server trial version or WebSphere Application Server for Developers edition and then begin the migration process.

Monday, December 14, 2009

WebSphere Application Server trial version

A while back Andrew mentioned the WebSphere Application Server for Developers product. This offering is essentially the WebSphere Application Server Base product licensed for free use in development environments.

To complement this offering, we also recently announced a trial version of the WebSphere Application Server. Like the above mentioned version of our application server, the trial version provides the WebSphere Application Server Base product, but the included license allows you to run the server in a production environment during the 60 day trial period.

If you are interested in getting a free look at the WebSphere Application Server but are worried your usage would not adhere to the license agreements in the WebSphere Application Server for Developers offering, give this new trial version a try.