Java EE 'not dead yet'

"J2EE is like the Mark Twain of enterprise software. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated."

Last week, I reported on the Burton Group's surprise pronouncement that Java EE was a dead platform walking. Bill Roth, vice president at BEA, had this to say about that: "J2EE is like the Mark Twain of enterprise software. Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated."

In last week's post, I observed that while Burton was labeling Java EE as the "CORBA of the 21st Century," it's notable that there are still a lot of fully functioning CORBA implementations out there. And, while Java EE can get pretty complicated, but implementations sit at the core of many newer implementations — from large commercial vendors such as IBM and BEA, as well as open source platforms such as Apache and JBoss.

Rich Seeley, who surfaced that first report, has just followed up with a piece on the bemused reactions of the industry. Namely, general agreement that the platform is a little complex, but far from dead. "Yes, there are problems with complexity, but it doesn't mean that platform is dead," said Jim Knudson, IBM Java EE architect.

RedMonk's Michael Cote put it this way: "Sure, if Java EE were frozen as it is now and never changed, it'd become obsolete," he said. "However, if Java EE continues its goal of simplifying and adds in support for more languages than just Java -- such as JavaScript, PHP, Ruby, Python, and/or Perl -- it can keep its position as platform for developing enterprise applications and services."

Ram Venkataraman, director of product management for JBoss, said Java EE 5 incorporates some of the concepts seen in the Hibernate and POJO-based programming communities. "Without sacrificing any of the enterprise-grade characteristics of the J2EE platform, Java EE 5 tremendously reduced the barrier to the development of enterprise applications, all the way from the simple to the most complex applications."

Still, there are voices that question if Java EE's complexity will overwhelm some organizations. Fellow ZDNet blogger Dana Gardner weighed in on the Java EE complexity issue, observing that Java EE does add complexity to a methodology (SOA) that should be reducing complexity."Expect Enterprise Java to continue to be deployed widely to clean up and modernize older and existing applications and infrastructure, but it's the new applications built of, by and for services where Java's future is indeed iffy," Dana writes. However, he observes, SOA itself is often made more complex than it ought to be.

"Much of [some analysts'] disdain for JEE 5 comes from burgeoning complexity, especially if SOA is prepared as a martini cocktail with Java as the vodka. But SOA, and some of the models and approaches being constructed for advancing SOA adoption, is itself in a head-long rush to complexity."