In the race to develop the world’s easiest Enterprise Java Bean (EJB), ObjectWeb has now thrown its hat in the ring. It has announced “EasyBeans,” a new open source project to provide what it calls a “pluggable and scalable container.”
Among its attributes, EasyBeans is supposed to be usable without an appserver.
EasyBeans are supported by the latest version of the JOnAS open source J2EE appserver. Admittedly, that’s a bit of an irony because JOnAS itself is built on the J2EE 1.4 specification, while EJB 3.0 is part of the successor version, Java EE 5.
Designed for integration to a web container, a reference implementation that integrates with Apache TomCat servlet container. Although EasyBeans are intended as a full EJB 3 implementation, it will also support alternative persistence (object/relational mapping, which is part of the EJB spec) frameworks such as Hibernate or Speedo, another ObjectWeb open source project.
In fact, EJB has become something of a free-for-all because earlier versions provide complex, difficult, and unpopular with the Java community. While EJB 3 was designed primarily to address those concerns, in the meantime, accessible open source alternatives have mounted plenty of competition for Java developer mindshare.
For instance, while Oracle has staked out a leading position as the first household name to offer EJB 3.0 support, BEA’s SolarMetric acquisition brought in Kodo, a persistence engine supporting EJB 3 and rival Java Data Object (JDO) programming models. Meanwhile, there’s Hibernate, an open source technology where JBoss has recruited some of its leading proponents.
According to project lead Florent Benoit, the goal here is to provide a simpler onramp to EJB 3 that will allow bits and pieces of popular alternatives to plug in. For instance, EasyBeans will support Hibernate’s Entity Manager or Spring, even though they are not EJB 3-compliant.
As part of that, it will support deployment without an appserver. Sometimes you don’t need the full Java EE stack, said Benoit. For instance, EasyBeans could stand alone if you deploy it inside a servlet container, web service, or an adapter that is JCA (Java Connector Architecture) compliant. This is easier because you are using a small and modular object, he added.
To prove its point, ObjectWeb plans to make a reference implementation embedded inside a TomCat servlet container available soon. EasyBeans is available now under the LGPL open source license.