BEA Plans Open-Source Project To Promote Java

BEA Systems, an application-infrastructure software company, today announced plans to create an open-source project called “Beehive.” Project Beehive is designed to be what the company is calling the “industry’s first open-source foundation” for building service-oriented architecture (SOA) and enterprise Java-based applications.

Based on the application framework of BEA WebLogic Workshop, Beehive is part of BEA’s effort to simplify Java development and broaden its accessibility. According to the company, more than 50 vendors already have signed on to be part of the initial ecosystem supporting Beehive.

“The Java community faces great challenges to keep up with the tremendous pace of change in technology and other competitive platforms such as .NET,” said Thomas Murphy, vice president of Meta Group. “Vendors releasing software to open source provides one way to potentially accelerate the creation and standardization of new Java functionality by involving a broad community and implementations rather than pure specifications.”

Project Beehive will be based on technology found in BEA WebLogic Workshop, including Java annotations, Java controls, Java Web services and Java Page Flows.

Based on WebLogic

Project Beehive relies on WebLogic Workshop’s controls, which are reusable metadata-driven software components that can integrate into BEA and other software platforms.

In addition, Beehive also builds on BEA’s Web services programming capabilities that are designed to help developers define and view page transitions between applications. The company hopes Project Beehive will attract new users to “a simpler way to build enterprise Java applications” while also attracting experienced Java and J2EE programmers with a model designed to save them from writing the same Java plumbing code over and over again.

According to BEA, Beehive will complement commercial and open-source IDEs, such as Eclipse, in that it offers an open-sourced application framework, or runtime environment, rather than a development environment. By open-sourcing the application framework, developers can create applications with their preferred tool and deploy them to any server, which can help avoid vendor lock-in.

IDE and Application Framework

“WebLogic Workshop consists of two major technologies: a powerful integrated development environment and an application framework to abstract many of the tedious tasks associated with Java development,” said Scott Dietzen, CTO of BEA Systems.

“By open-sourcing the application framework,” he said, “we can help provide a way for all Java developers, as well as our ISV partners, to build fully portable applications more productively, which creates immense business opportunities and future growth for the Java ecosystem.”

Dietzen said that time will prove these technologies “critical to the standardization of inter-application orchestration via workflows and Web-flows.”

Part of the Beehive Ecosystem

As part of the WebLogic Workshop Controls and Extensibility Program, other platforms can be incorporated into the Beehive ecosystem, letting developers create reusable, portable components designed to be used in a range of applications. These companies include Borland, Capgemini, Compuware, Intel, MySQL, Red Hat, salesforce.com and Veritas.

“Red Hat is pleased to see one of our major platform partners, BEA, embrace open source so aggressively,” said Mike Evans, vice president of strategic alliances at Red Hat. “Project Beehive will enable faster innovation by opening up key pieces of the stack that complement and enhance already open components, like Tomcat, so that innovation isn’t constrained by the Java Community Process.”

Working with BEA, Red Hat plans to include open-source WebLogic framework runtime components in future product releases to help customers take advantage of the benefits of open source.

Running on Tomcat

Project Beehive is designed to run on Apache Tomcat — the reference implementation for Java Servlet engines. With more than 4 million downloads of Tomcat since last year, according to BEA, project Beehive is designed to help Tomcat developers scale their applications by facilitating connections to other infrastructures.

“As the industry-leading, open-source database provider, mySQL welcomes the open sourcing of BEA’s WebLogic Workshop framework,” said Marten Mickos, CEO of mySQL. “We think this is a significant step forward toward the creation of an open-source programming stack, and complements existing open-source technologies around databases and middleware.”

Project Beehive is expected to be available this summer for free under an open-source license. BEA will continue to offer the BEA WebLogic Workshop IDE for free to developers. Developers who want to start immediately working with the Beehive programming model — in combination with an IDE — can download the free edition of BEA WebLogic Workshop.

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