Typesafe (Now Lightbend) Unveils Java Platform for Microservices

Lightbend (formerly known as Typesafe) today unveiled a new framework for Java developers creating microservices-based applications. Dubbed Lagom, the open source framework was built with technologies from the company's Reactive Platform, including the Play Web framework, the Akka message-driven runtime, and the ConductR deployment orchestrator. It was designed, the company said, to "reduce the risk and accelerate the transition to a microservices architecture for traditional Java enterprises."

"Enterprise Java developers really need help building microservices-based applications," said Mark Brewer, Lightbend's president and CEO. "We believe there's an opportunity for our company to own the next set of application written in Java that are microservices-based."

Building and deploying several services or applications is a common activity for enterprise Java developers, said Jonas Bonér, the company's CTO and co-founder. But creating hundreds or thousands of individual, decoupled services is not. And the tools to support that type of development just haven't been there, the said.

"With Lagom, we tried to distill the core traits of a microservice, and make sure that they are supported across the whole development environment," he said.

Lagom provides a guided, prescriptive approach to simplifying this process, Boner explained, allowing Java developers to "leave behind brittle scripts" and run a whole system of microservices from a single command. Lagom is designed to abstract the complexities of legacy monolithic applications and decompose them into distributed microservices architectures. It's an opinionated solution, so it encourages specific practices to increase ease of development.

Lagom also supports distributed microservice architectures by enabling data persistence through event-sourcing and CQRS, he said.

Perhaps most importantly, Boner said, is the framework's ability to launch all microservices with a single command. "Microservices-based systems involve up to hundreds of microservices," he said. "How do you build these systems without losing productivity. In Lagom, through a single command, you can spin up hundreds of services, and you do code reloading across all of them, integrate with your IDEs, and remain productive."

Also, the framework is fully asynchronous, non-blocking, back-pressure enabled, and requires no additional infrastructure or technologies. "All communication is asynchronous," Boner said. "For developers using Akka and Reactive, that's natural, but thinking asynchronously is not natural for most Java developers."

The new Lagom framework is not yet generally available, but the company expects to launch it on March 9.

Lagom is a Swedish word that means "just the right size," Bonér explained.

"There has been a lot of discussion around the question of what is the right size for a microservice," he said, "how many lines of code should it be. And all of that is nonsense; it has nothing to do with size. So we came up with this name as a bit of a twist."

Lightbend is the new name of the chief commercial backer of the open source Scala project as of today. The company's product list includes Akka, an open source, asynchronous, event-driven middleware implemented in Scala; the Play Web app framework, which is written in Scala and Java; and the Reactive Platform, which combines a number of products to supports the development of reactive applications on the JVM in both Scala and Java.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].