Eclipse MicroProfile 1.1 Paving a New Path for Java EE

The Eclipse Foundation's MicroProfile project has submitted what may be the first ever Java Specification Request (JSR) to come from an open source foundation. That proposed JSR, "Eclipse MicroProfile Config API," was part of the MicroProfile 1.1 release announced earlier this month. The API is designed to make it easy to set and manage environment configurations for enterprise Java microservices.

The JSR was submitted to the Java Community Process (JCP) on Aug. 8. It's currently under consideration by the Executive Committee (EC) of the JCP. Once approved, it will be added to that standards body's roster of proposed specifications for the Java Platform.

"We believe in the JCP process, and we want to do right by the community around that process," David Blevins, founder and CEO of Tomitribe, told ADTMag. "It was in our mission statement from the beginning that we would never subvert or undermine the JCP, but participate in it to accelerate innovation and standardization. By submitting this JSR, we are fulfilling that aspect of our mission statement."

If the JSR is approved, Eclipse will be the spec lead and the MicroProfile community will be driving the effort, which is a very different approach to technology standardization, Blevins said.

"The group of individuals who act on behalf of Eclipse for this round of Config may be completely different next time," he said. "But it will always be Eclipse behind the JSR. The JSR itself is open source.", an independent initiative to create a baseline platform definition that optimizes enterprise Java for microservices architecture, was unveiled by its founders at the Devoxx UK and DevNation events in June 2016. The list of founders includes Red Hat, IBM, Tomitribe, Payara, and the London Java Community (LJC). Brazil's SouJava Community joined soon after the announcement. The following September, MicroProfile 1.0 was announced during the annual JavaOne event. The initiative became an Eclipse project in December 2016.

Oracle announced last Thursday that it is considering moving Java EE to an open source foundation, such as the Eclipse Foundation or The Apache Software Foundation. That move is widely considered to be a reaction, at least in part, to both the project and the efforts of the Java EE Guardians to make up for Oracle's perceived neglect of enterprise Java

"When we announced MicroProfile last year," Blevins said, "it was always with the intention that we would create standards based on things that were innovative. That mission statement has been out there in the world for a year, and I think we're seeing the beginnings of a pattern emerge. There is no doubt that, with the resurgence of Java EE 8, everyone is coming together on the same page."

The Eclipse MicroProfile Config AP brings something to Java that has been sorely lacking for a long time, Blevins said.

"We wanted a clean way for basic properties data to be injectable and accessible via lookup inside the application, and for those properties to exist outside the application in many sources. Ten years ago, a little XML file inside the app was probably okay, but in today's world, where we have containerized environments, like Docker and Kubernettes, this idea of having simple properties being injectable into the application itself is much more relevant. And it should be standardized. Walk into just about any corporate environment and you'll find some home-grown solution for passing properties into their applications. We're eliminating the need for people to reinvent that particular."

Blevins' company, Santa Monica, Calif.-based Tomitribe, which currently holds a seat on the EC, provides solutions and services focused on TomEE, the Java Enterprise Edition of the Apache Tomcat Java Servlet container.

The Eclipse MicroProfile Config API is part of the current release of the MicroProfile, and Blevins expects it to fair well as it moves through the JCP approval process.

"I think it's at the right level to be successful inside the JCP," he said. "There's enough there to shape conversation and focus direction, with enough room for creativity and for the community to have an impact."

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].