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Some thoughts on the JBoss AS 5 release

Posted by kalali on December 18, 2008 at 10:07 AM PST

JBoss application server 5 GA released after a very long period of silence from "JBoss, a division of Red Hat". The new version of JBoss application server supports Java EE 5 and is based on modularity concept with a small kernel named JBoss MicroContainer in the core and all functionalities as modules around the kernel. JBoss kernel is POJO based and all modules follows the same principals, some configuration files are required to configure the services which the kernel will load. JBoss modularity system is niether based on OSGI nor drafts of the to be released Java SE modularity system.

JBoss 5, uses the MicroContainer to ensure an easy implementation of Java EE 6 profiles and also let the developers and administrators to easily disable some features and enable some other features.

I think from version 5, JBoss application server development will see some dramatic changes, the modules will be developed independently and therefore, the release cycle will be a mixed model of hot module releases like updates and patches and major releases which is an integration of all available modules. Although JBoss is far from providing a solid foundation in term providing a package distribution system and all required software to keep an eye on the updated modules and installing them, but that is the path which I think they will follow.

With all this architectural changes, JBoss 5 has a drawback. There is no changes in the administration at all, 3 years of development produces no changes in what administrators use to manage the servers, clusters and applications which are assets of the company which they work for. The same old JMX based administration console is what administrators should deal with for some few months or years until Red Hat finishes the development of their new administration console. Yes, the have a project named Jopr to provide a neat SEAM based administration console, but when it will be ready to get bundled with AS, no one knows.

Today GlassFish is the dominant open source application server and it gained the market share in absence of the Open Source application servers steward, JBoss. The steward re-appeared but its re-appearance is not that promising because of many advantages which its replacement, GlassFish, provides over it.

GlassFish v3 uses a modular architecture based on the standards.The OSGI as the bundle layer and HK2 which is an early implementation of JSR-277, Java SE modularity system, for the service layer. There is no need to edit an XML file, just drop the bundle and it is installed or remove the bundle and it will not load the next time. Also you can utilize the very easy to use update Centre which in addition to managing the currently installed modules, let you install updates or brand new features by selecting the features that you need and waiting for the download to finishes.

GlassFish v3 distribution is based on a solid binary distribution system named pkg(5) Image Packaging System or simply IPS which is a operating system independent software distribution system based on network repository of the software packages. The IPS helps keeping GlassFish up to date automatically with in the blink of an eye. it let you install the new features and updates by some clicks in the desktop GUI, web based administration console, or using the command line

GlassFish v3 provides very solid administration channels including the JMX console, the web based administration console and the command line administration tools which one can use to administrate all aspects of the application server from mere deploying an application to large scale management of a cluster farm.

And Finally GlassFish version 3 supports Java EE 6 and its final version will be available by the middle of 2009. if you want to know about GlassFish for Java EE 5, you should know that the version which supports Java EE 5 released in May 2006 and its 3rd major updates is GlassFish 2.1 which is scheduled to be released on Jan 2009


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I have used JBoss in production for 24x7 high transaction applications since 2001. It is not perfect but I like it. Generally I do not chase after the 'latest-greatest' API, JSR etc. In fact I prefer to rely on as little of API's as pragmatically possible. JBoss answers mainstream requirements. I'm sure GlassFish is great as well but why would I change my production environment with 100s of JBoss deployments? You have to make an argument for the enterprise user to justify changing an established platform. I gave you the employment stats to show the estimated market share, GF has quite some time to go until it dominates the market. I agree JBoss 5 took awhile to come out and I'm sure RH decelarated the amount of investment into it after it acquired JBoss so if they do not innovate they will lose the marketshare eventually.

Just as a followup to my previous comment I realized that the problem is not that it can't find the xmls to wire up the beans, the problem is the package scanning for annotated classes. Spring is having a hard time with this custom vfs solution. I found a thread that talks about it here:

@Masoud, sincere apologies for getting your name wrong. My mistake. While JBoss was late (the last) to pass EE 5 certification - we were actually one of the first to implement the major features of EE 5. I speak to the field and many customers on a daily basis and I've never heard a single customer actually ask for full EE 5 certification. Not once. I think customers, especially those invested in Open Source are pretty pragmatic and value Open over Standard - I've seen at least one survey state this. Also look at Spring - it's not EE anything certified and it's very, very popular. @thedig - having Spring run well on JBoss AS 5 is obviously important so please swing by the forums and report the issue there :

It seems JBOSS 5 has broke portability of Spring. In order to get spring to find the xmls off the classpath you need to use a custom jboss library called jboss-as-sprint-int (It really is called sprint-int not spring-int) When spring goes to find the xml off the classpath it doesn't play nice with the new virtual file system in jboss 5.

Having worked with JBoss for years, I have never missed the lack of a fancy graphical console like the one used by Glassfish (or WebLogic). Maybe I'm too old, but there's IMO nothing wrong with nice, logically laid out, configuration files.

I've never yet seen Glassfish work in a production environment of a revenue generating system. JBoss however is very widely used.

For me the choice of application server is clear. When there is no customer preference and our salesteam doesn't manage to get them to buy a bundle deal of WebLogic or OC4J in combination with all the other Oracle goodies we offer them, JBoss is the server of choice. Performant, stable, easy to configure and manage, and the team knows the platform.

My feed reader just shown another entry related to statistics which I am not good at. You may check for more detailed graph and comments.

Rich, You misspelled my name, kalil is neither my name nor my last name.

JBoss was in the market for many years, so any recruitment may mentions JBoss as one of the employee hunting keywords. As I said that JBoss played the steward roles for many years so it will widely appear in search terms even if you stop the development. (at least for two or three years after you stop the development)

Lets look at it from another perspective, 3 years , no solid version from JBoss to support the most interesting version of Java EE, but during this time GlassFish provided very well documentation, very good administration console, many adoption stories, really good benchmark results, etc. Do you think after such 3 years you are really on top of the application servers market?.

You can find many of GlassFish adoptions stories in and you may check google trends to see how search terms trends are changing and GlassFish is getting up.

Kalil, thanks for the plug - here's a link to the JBoss AS 5.0 download page Have fun. Rich JBoss, a Division of Red Hat