Red Hat Inc’s JBoss is seeking to expand its footprint upstream from runtime back to development. And although Red Hat is an Eclipse member, it’s building up a parallel community of open source Eclipse-based tooling that will be hosted outside the Eclipse orbit.
Red Hat’s first shot is an agreement with Exadel Inc, which developed rich client tools as an outgrowth of its software development professional services business.
Exadel’s products include Exadel RichFaces (Visual Component Platform), a rich component library for JSF that generates Ajax-style rich clients; and Exadel Studio Pro, a web application development toolset which supports JSF, Struts, Hibernate, and Spring.
The RichFaces product will be available immediately through the JBoss.org site. But it will take a bit longer to get Studio Pro ready for open source. Red Hat expects to release it on JBoss.org by summer, when it will be rebranded Red Hat Developer Studio.
Until now, Exadel’s tools were not open source. Under the deal, Exadel open sources them and retains ownership in name. But Exadel’s tools will be hosted in Red Hat’s JBoss developer portal, while Red Hat throws additional engineers into product development and assumes control over product direction.
Call it an acquisition without having to fork over money or sign the papers. Although we will work together, as with any JBoss.org, Red Hat will drive the direction, said Bryan Che, product manager at Red Hat.
Red Hat’s Gavin King will take the leadership of the Exadel tool projects at JBoss.org. For Exadel, it means that it can stick to its knitting, while its tooling gets greater visibility under a better known brand name.
Red Hat’s Che calls this a first step as part of a comprehensive strategy. By that, he means a strategy of third party functionality that will come as plug-ins to the Red Hat, rather than the Eclipse developer platform.
Ultimately, this will be become the newest pillar of the Red Hat stack, joining a Red Hat Enterprise Linux-optimized JBoss server with development tools that in turn are developed for JBoss.
It opens at least one interesting scenario, at least to hard core Java developers. It’s that JBoss has long promoted Hibernate as a more robust POJO (Plain Old Java Object, which means simple Java objects) to Spring.
Of course, that part’s not surprising as JBoss heads the Hibernate open source project. But by supporting Exadel’s tools, which also support Spring, the framework would slip into the JBoss portal by the back door.
You won’t see us in the immediate future provide production support of Spring. But as part of a toolset, we will have Spring plug-ins because Exadel has done a lot of fantastic work around Spring, said Che.
The obvious question is, if Red Hat’s JBoss is already a member of Eclipse, why isn’t it pushing development of Eclipse plug-ins? The rationale, according to Che, is licensing: Eclipse allows Apache-style licenses, which hallow vendors to incorporate technologies into proprietary products, whereas Red Hat/JBoss for the most part uses GPL or LGPL, which are supposedly stricter in requiring technology to remain open source.
Regardless of open source ideals, the practical effect is that Red hat is building yet another alternate stack to Microsoft. Until now, Eclipse was considered the default alternative in the Java community to Microsoft’s Visual Studio IDE. Now Red Hat/JBoss is throwing itself into the mix with a third stack that in this case will more closely rival Microsoft’s.
That is, Eclipse restricts itself to the development side of the stack, with a common IDE shell to provide a consistent look and feel, and increasingly, back end integration at metadata level. But Microsoft’s stack spans from development through run time, and ultimately, that’s where Red Hat/JBoss is headed.