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Rick Ross

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J2EE Journal: Article

Oracle Targets Top Spot With New Oracle9iAS and Jdeveloper

Oracle Targets Top Spot With New Oracle9iAS and Jdeveloper


I returned just yesterday from a fantastic trip to San Francisco for Oracle's OpenWorld conference. It wasn't clear what to expect when I accepted Oracle's invitation to give a presentation, but I was delighted to find the show had a high-energy crowd that was very tuned in to Java, especially J2EE and Web services. The whole show was great, but the most interesting and important items came from Oracle, itself - Oracle9i Application Server Release 2 and Oracle9i JDeveloper.

Ellison Aims High, Goes After App Server Market Primacy
Before getting into specifics about these two products and their significance, I'd like to consider at a slightly higher level what Oracle seem to be doing strategically. In short, Oracle has made an unequivocal, public commitment to capturing the lead in the Java application server market. The database leader has been a strong and steadfast Java supporter since the beginning, but I now see Oracle shifting into a much more significant role as a true Java leader and trendsetter, and I'm excited by what I see. Oracle clearly recognizes that helping Java developers succeed is key to its own success, so the company has devoted major resources to creating first-rate developer tools - a smart strategy! If Oracle continues on this course, then I expect them to win unprecedented levels of respect and support within the Java developer community.

I was surprised by Oracle's vision when they announced at JavaOne that they had licensed Orion as the new foundation for Oracle9iAS - Orion had been our hands-down favorite app server at JavaLobby for some time before this. It was a gutsy and shrewd move for Oracle. You don't often see a major company have the clarity and insight to scrap its own product in favor of a superior third-party offering, especially from such a small team as the one that built Orion. It has become evident, however, that licensing Orion was only the beginning of a broader strategy, and Oracle9iAS Release 2 demonstrates how much additional development strength Oracle brings to the mix.

Oracle9iAS Release 2, just announced this week at OpenWorld, is a fiercely competitive, standards-compliant, J2EE 1.2 certified application server that promises to give BEA WebLogic and IBM Websphere something to worry about besides one another...and Microsoft's upcoming .Net platform. Here's a short list of some of the new features and improvements that Oracle9iAS Release 2 adds to the foundation established at JavaOne:

  • Clustering capability, two new options - cache clusters and EJB clusters
  • J2EE 1.2 certified, and offers support for J2EE 1.3, working on cert for 1.3
  • Inclusion of JCA, JAAS, EJB 2.0 message-driven beans
  • Various XML APIs and improved support for SOAP and Web services
  • Complete integration of Apache web server with core architecture
  • Graphical tool using Ant for convenient builds
  • Advanced server support for rapid edit, compile, deploy cycles
  • Servlets can be automatically recompiled in active server context, convenient for developers
  • Extensive new support for custom tag libraries - Web services, caching, lower level APIs
Show's Biggest Surprise: JDeveloper - for All-Purpose Java Development
The big surprise of the show, however, was Oracle9i JDeveloper - I'd absolutely no idea that Oracle had created such a powerful tool for all-purpose Java development. Oracle9i JDeveloper offers a comprehensive, integrated environment for design, development, debugging, profiling, and deployment of Java solutions. Written from the ground up in Java, Oracle has brought together everything you need for advanced UML modeling, project management, remote debugging, integrated execution and memory profiling, and even 1-click deployment into the embedded Oracle9iAS application server. JDeveloper is a powerhouse, and it is FREE, FREE, FREE! I've paid thousands to buy the various pieces of this solution from Sitraka, WebGain, VMGear and others. Now Oracle has put the whole solution into a single, integrated package that even students and hobbyists can benefit from. Oracle9i JDeveloper sets a new standard for value in the developer tools space, and delivering great developer tools is the best way to win the hearts of Java developers.

Make no mistake, JDeveloper isn't the same old, same old. Oracle had previously licensed an OEM version of Borland JBuilder and distributed it under the JDeveloper brand name, but this new version represents a radical departure from that approach - and a major step forward. I'd always thought Oracle's tools were probably fine for people doing database work in Java, but I was skeptical that they were truly competitive for all-purpose Java development. I was seriously wrong, and this new JDeveloper offering is one of the most solid "first version" releases I have seen. It has outstanding support for building XML Web services, automating EJB creation, round-trip UML design, CVS source control, and more. Do yourself a favor and download it now, you'll be glad you did. It says it's a "release candidate," but as far as I can tell it is ready for prime time.

The cool thing about JDeveloper is that it's a pure Java application itself, and provides an open API for integration of virtually any third party tools into the JDeveloper environment. Several leading tools vendors are already at work on add-ins for Oracle9i JDeveloper that will extend and specialize its features and capabilities even further. I'm told that it's especially easy to integrate tools written in Java, so I hope we'll see some of the finest make the move to JDeveloper and turn it into a platform supported by multiple vendors, and not just Oracle. Systems like Compuware's new OptimalJ could slip right into JDeveloper, taking integration to a new high-water mark. Oracle's committed re-entry into the developer tools space comes just in time, since Microsoft is clearly looking to use Visual Studio.NET to gain traction and mindshare with developers.

Coming Soon to a Keynote Near You: Larry's Quest for the Holy App-Grail
Finally, you'll probably enjoy watching the keynote presentation from Oracle SVP, Jeremy Burton, entitled "The Quest for the Holy Applications Development Grail." It features some very funny storytelling from Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. I enjoyed the adventures of Good King Larry and his Merry Men as they battle the Blue Knight and the likes of Darth Gates and Ballmer of the Bad Hair! Very funny stuff, and I don't usually like keynote speeches. I think you'll enjoy it, too!

More Stories By Rick Ross

Rick Ross is the founder of Javalobby ( He is a frequent speaker at Java-related events and a well-known advocate for Java developer interests.

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