Java object models debated

Panelists ponder issues

SANTA CLARA, Calif.-- Industry panelists here Tuesday debated issues surrounding support of complex object models in J2EE Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs), deemed critical to object persistence and mapping contents of an object to a database.

Representatives of companies including Sun Microsystems, IBM, and Versant noted technologies such as Java Data Objects (JDO) and Entity Beans, albeit with disdain in some instances. Panelists were participating in a session entitled, "J2EE EJBs do not support complex object models -- what to do," at the Software Development Conference & Expo West 2003 event.

Versant CTO KeironMcCammon stated that Entity Beans technology doesn't solve the problem. "That's my position and I'm sticking to it," McCammon said. "They quite frankly just built the clock wrong."

Floyd Marinescu, director of TheServerside.com, an informational resource for J2EE developers, also said he had difficulties with Entity Beans. "It is still hard to build large object models with Entity Beans," Marinescu said.

The opportunity to build a market of reusable business components has not happened, he said. "It was an admirable dream but it didn't pan out," Marinescu said.

Kyle Brown, a senior technical member in IBM Software Services for WebSphere, said two-thirds of his job has been design review, and that he has found that people really have not done object-oriented analysis or object-oriented design.

IBM, meanwhile, is working on data objects technology in its WebSphere platform for integration into the J2EE framework, Brown said.

Sun's Craig Russell, a product architect, defended EJBs.

"I think it's interesting that far too often, you say EJBs are the trouble when what you really mean are CMPs [Container Managed Persistence]," Russell said.

He also expressed support of Entity Beans. "Yes, they're complex and hard, but yes they do work." Russell said.

Marinescusaid the open-source Hibernate framework allows developers to build transparent persistence. He also hailed JDO.

"Thanks to JDO, transparent persistence has made it to the level of a standard," said Marinescu. But he expressed reservations about Sun's commitment to the technology.

"One thing I'm worried about is Sun may not be funding it," Marinescu said.

Russell responded that "JDO is alive," but added, "It doesn't have as much funding as I'd like it to have."

JDO offers worthwhile features for manipulating an object model, Brown said. Developers, however, must live in a world where there are 20-year-old data schemas that do not map to an object model, he said.

Also at the conference:

-- Ogis International, ofPalo Alto, Calif., previewed its XGrotto Web Services Integration Suite, which is intended to help developers integrate Web services and applications faster. The suite features tools and libraries to help developers and system integrators enhance applications with Web services. The company also announced enhancements to its XGrotto.com directory, a registry of Web services. The directory is being extended to support individuals, students, research institutes, and academic organizations. The user interface also has been improved and developers can integrate the directory into their own Java applications.

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