.NET has been my primary focus this year because it is what I work with. All the same, I think that it is important to be aware of what is going on in other development communities. So I welcomed the opportunity to speak with Rod Johnson, the General Manager of SpringSource, about the changes that Java has been through in the last year and what he sees on the horizon for Java and SpringSource. Mr. Johnson explained the key trends in the Java world and where SpringSource fits into those trends.
The first thing we discussed is the role of open source. He and I are in agreement that the Java community has really stepped up to the plate in the last few years in terms of providing a lot of great open source support, languages, and frameworks for the Java platform — Spring, Hibernate, and JRuby immediately come to mind. One of the side effects is that the initiative has been taken away from the various committees that previously dominated the Java ecosystem and has been moved towards the developers who use it. This has allowed Java to blossom very quickly and break out of its stagnancy.
He stated that the next evolution for Java is to better integrate the technologies, especially as some technologies achieve deep market penetration. My analysis is that, while having the various choices is great, it is very confusing for developers and makes it difficult to get into Java development. By reducing the choices in frameworks and libraries by putting together a standard stack, complexity is diminished, and developer productivity is increased. SpringSource is working to build a "single start point" for Java developers. Mr. Johnson feels that the open source Java world can produce a "single package" at the same level of consistency and integration as the .NET offering.
Two other trends in the Java world are ORM systems and cloud computing. Java's ORM capabilities are pretty advanced. My take on this is that they had to become advanced due to necessity, while .NET's tight integration to SQL Server reduced much of the impetus towards ORM. Java developers, like many other developers right now, are slowly feeling their way towards cloud computing and their personal comfort levels.
For SpringSource, 2009 was a year with a lot of changes; the major news is that they were sold to VMware. The company experienced a lot of growth this year, and its tc Server offering has been a great hit with customers and much cheaper to own and maintain than its competition. SpringSource is working hard to ease the deployment and maintenance process, including a common framework for managing applications.
Looking ahead to 2010, Mr. Johnson told me that SpringSource plans to continue making progress with regards to developer productivity and integration of the Java stack; the company also plans to work on a cloud platform that combines tc Server and VMware's server virtualization products.
J.JaDisclosure of Justin's industry affiliations: Justin James has a contract with Spiceworks to write product buying guides; he has a contract with OpenAmplify, which is owned by Hapax, to write a series of blogs, tutorials, and articles; and he has a contract with OutSystems to write articles, sample code, etc.
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Justin James is an OutSystems MVP, architect, and developer with expertise in SaaS applications and enterprise applications.