Recently, I spent some time—well, actually a lot of time—clicking through TheServerSide.com. The site's creator, The Middleware Company, describe it as "a free online community dedicated to Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) and the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE)." While checking out this one-and-a-half-year-old Web site, I decided that I like this site very much. The information is valuable to its target audience, the site is well designed, and the content is fresh.
Theserverside.com was founded by Ed Roman, CEO of The Middleware Company and author of Mastering EJB and its soon-to-be-released update, both published by John Wiley & Sons. Roman isn't the only heavy hitter behind the site, either. Floyd Marinescu is director of TheServerSide.com. His book EJB Design Patterns will be published by John Wiley & Sons in February 2002. The Middleware Company's new chief architect, RickardÖberg, is author of Mastering RMI and was previously an architect for the Jboss Open Source J2EE Application Server.
Appropriately enough, the site was implemented using EJB and J2EE technology. Documentation on the particulars of the site’s deployment in terms of hardware and software can be downloaded from the site.
Among its many features, the site includes:
- A list of upcoming events in the J2EE/EJB community, including training sessions and conferences.
- A discussion forum organized into several sections, such as EJB programming, EJB design, XML and Web Services, General J2EE discussion, Servlets and JSP, and Performance and Scalability. The sections have frequent posts, with the requisite flame toward newbies who ask irrelevant questions. But even with those well-thought-out categories, the content here is a tad unruly and could use additional weeding. It would benefit from one of its users' suggestions to create a FAQ section from common posts. The good news is that TheServerSide staff appears dutiful in responding to the posts on the feedback forum for the site.
- A patterns repository, which includes J2EE/EJB patterns created by the site authors as well as the user community. Marinescu's "Coarse Grained BMP Beans with Dependent Value Objects" is a recent post, as is "Asynchronous Multiple Load Processes," by Suresh Rangan. Marinescu has also posted chapters of his upcoming book on EJB patterns for review.
- Reviews, which run the gamut of J2EE server products, with two $100 prizes awarded monthly for the best reviews. The site touts this section as an "independent, user run repository of real world J2EE applications, not marketing hype nor flamebait." While the user participation is incredible, and insights come from developers who actually use the products they review, I wouldn't mind seeing a summary of these opinions for each product.
- A resources section, with new articles posted regularly. You have to admire a site that calls itself "Your J2EE Community" while posting a decent white paper called "J2EE vs. Microsoft.NET: A Comparison of Building XML-based Web Services." Although it's easy to guess which technology the white paper recommends, this is just the kind of content that helps J2EE developers hone their platform arguments. News is posted on the site too, and the first news item was a comment on and link to a ZDNet article called "W3C Seeks Clout for Web Rules."
- Hard Core Tech Talks, a section that offers streaming media interviews with industry experts: most recently, Tyler Jewell, director of technical evangelism for BEA Systems, and Inderjeet Singh, J2EE blueprint architect for Sun. You can choose between a 56K or DSL connection, and once it loads, you can click on the individual questions you want to watch. The presentation of the interviews is adept and runs well.
Most of the information on the site can be accessed without signing up, but to post comments, you'll need to become a member—which is free.
What Java resources do you use?
If there's a great Java site you can’t live without, we'd like to hear about it. Send us an e-mail with your recommendations or post a comment below.
An active community
On Jan. 3, 2002, TheServerSide.com announced plans to upgrade the site to include polls, surveys, and migration to EJB 2.0. I noticed in the discussion boards that their new architect, Öberg, has posted several times already, responding to suggestions for improvement. In fact, Roman and Marinescu post regularly, too, which is part of why this site is valuable: It's actively tended by both the knowledgeable hosts and the user community. That doesn't happen often enough. Other Java sites like jguru.com, jmiddleware.com, and EJBportal.com, all decent in their own right, don't hum with the same energy that TheServerSide.com does.
All this and a free book, too
Need another reason to check out this site? How about a copy of a new book on JavaBeans? Mastering Enterprise JavaBeans Second Edition and its accompanying source code are available as a free download in PDF format. Now you have no excuse for not visiting the site.