JBoss Application Server 4.0, the next version of the open-source application server, was released on Monday.
The company claims that JBoss AS 4.0 is the first open-source application server to achieve J2EE 1.4 certification, a Sun certification which requires companies to pass 23,000 tests to prove compatibility with the Java Enterprise specification.
In the past JBoss said that it would not certify its application server as Sun's licensing price for the test suites was too high and the value of J2EE certification was on the wane.
Sacha Labourey, European general manager of JBoss, said that certification is important so that the company can compete with the larger application server providers.
"JBoss was previously seen as a renegade, now it is the only open-source application server to be certified. Indeed [commercial vendor] BEA has not yet been certified to this level -- it has only been certified to J2EE 1.3," said Labourey.
The company claims that JBoss AS 4.0 is the first application server to have fully implemented aspect orientation (AO) for Java, a tool which makes it easier to deploy Java objects onto the application server.
"In the past if you wanted to deploy a single object in an application server you had to code four, five or six Java source files and two or three XML files," said Labourey. "So for a single component you needed about eight files. With AO you only need a single file - you can take any Java object and add metatags saying whether the object is, for example, transactional."
A developer for a large financial company that ZDNet UK spoke to on Monday agreed that AO may help with deployment.
"When you create an EJB you have to do all these things: create an interface class, create an implementation class, create a factory interface, create a factory implementation, create an XML deployment descriptor, run an EJB tool, compile everything, archive it all up with yet another XML file and then deploy it. In other words, it's a big pain. In contrast to this AO is considerably simpler," said the developer.
But the developer pointed out that this technique already exists in Microsoft's rival programming language C#.
Labourey claims that JBoss AS 4.0 is the first application server to implement EJB 3.0, the draft specification for the next version of EJB, which Sun released in May 2004. This means that developers can forward-test applications to make sure they are compatible with the next version of EJB.
JBoss AS has shown considerable growth in market share in the last couple of years, according to a study by BZ Research. The study found that use of JBoss AS doubled from 13.9 percent in 2002 to 26.9 percent in 2003, with the highest rate of market-share growth among all application servers.
Labourey hopes to overtake its competitor BEA in the future, although he does not see JBoss overtaking IBM.
"We are hoping to grow to reach second place in market - we are number three at the moment behind IBM and BEA," said Labourey.
"IBM is a constant in the marketplace -- it's huge and very well established and has lots of different revenue streams. It can afford to give away Websphere as it can then sell 20 consultants to set it up. BEA, which has a different revenue structure, is finding it more difficult to adapt to the current marketplace."
JBoss AS 4.0 is available for free download under the GPL open-source licence, which allows ISVs to embed and distribute it free of charge. JBoss Inc. does not sell licences or add-ons for the product, instead concentrating on providing support.