In-Depth

Vendor tool approaches to easing EJB development

Various J2EE toolmakers have worked in recent years to ease the task of developing for the J2EE platform. Perhaps only a few of their advances have had much effect to date on EJB design, which is for some shops a key part of J2EE.

Like others, IBM’s Eric Naiburg suggests EJB development cannot be oversimplified. “Software development in general is hard. You have to be smart about how you ‘architect’ your system,” said Naiburg, group marketing manager, desktop products, IBM Rational. “That includes creating business logic, or EJBs.” He does note that EJB development is somewhat simplified through wizards in, for example, the WebSphere Studio Application Developer edition.

Mike Burba, product manager for Compuware OptimalJ, agrees that working with EJBs is fundamentally hard and that while tool vendors may be able to ease some of the tasks, there are limitations to what can be done with the current spec.

“The specification is just difficult to use,” Burba told ADT. “It was built with the idea that tools would make it simple, and tools haven’t really delivered.” Compuware is focusing on modeling as a solution for some of the difficulties developers run into with EJBs.

“One of the innovations, we believe, is Model Driven Development,” Burba said. “That is where we play a major role with OptimalJ. What we do for EJB development is we abstract out of the technological detail. We capture everything at the business level in a business model ... We generate all the artifacts from the high-level model.”

BEA Systems is also working to abstract EJB complexity for developers working on its WebLogic platform, according to Cedric Beust, senior software engineer at BEA.

“BEA has been shipping a tool called EJBGen since BEA WebLogic 7.0 that greatly simplifies the development of EJBs,” Beust told ADT in response to e-mail questions. “This tool uses annotations, saving developers from ever having to write a single line of XML. EJBGen also takes care of generating the various files required by the EJB 2.1 specification.”

Please see the following related stories: “Simple EJB: Is it ready yet?” by Johanna Ambrosio

“JCP: A watched pot never boils” by Johanna Ambrosio

About the Authors

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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