JXTA at 5 Years Old
JXTA is just about to turn 5 years old. Hard to imagine. Those internet years at 7 to 1 seem to be in play, at least with my memory. A lot has happened in 5 years.
I got involved with JXTA soon after it was announces. Anything with the mark of Bill Joy had to have something smart associated with it, so I jumped in head first. I quickly started writing applications and doing small things. I learned a lot.
Soon after things started, I got a call from Sams Publishing to do a book on JXTA. It was a difficult book. Though I had some experience, we were still struggling with how to best write P2P applications. P2P is not the easiest thing in the world. The idea of publish pipes and all that was not an easy thing to wrap your mind around. The ping example in the book went on for many pages - now I can write ping in one.
One of the key advances was simply an understanding of how to write P2P applications. One of the best is just the simplistic well-known-ID or WKI for lack of something shorter. For all the indexing and advertising, there are simpler applications of WKI that make it very simple to implement many P2P applications.
The JXTA spec and platform evolved too. The original version was painfully slow. Just connecting to the network could take a couple of minutes. Now average boot and connect to a JXTA network is a couple of seconds. Transfer speeds are also way up. The C version of the platform is also doing well and had a lot of heavy rewriting. Nothing better than a little refactoring, except more refactoring.
The protocol changed slightly, making up for some of the speed. The key advances were in how the Rendezvous worked. But it seems that a lot of things sped up with little changes here and there over a few years. None of this was without a lot of dedication from the platform team.
The next bit of advancement was the addition of a Socket wrapper for JXTA. One of the tough problems with the base API was working with an API that was unfamiliar. The socket API is very familiar and it is easier for the average developer to understand what's going on. The socket also hides things like reliability a bit better. There has been a lot of churn in the design of the code under the wrapper, but those changes are completely transparent.
The business viability of JXTA also continued to improve. I have been employed by several companies that were using JXTA, including many fortune 500's. I have also worked with several startups. JXTA makes sense for a lot of applications and businesses see that quite clearly. There are still a few things that big business needs like out of the box presence, identity management, and a true P2P database. We do have presence in our commons project, but there is room to grow.
The market for P2P is still growing and JXTA is still the only viable multi-purpose solution. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of P2P out there, but mostly for file sharing and not writing business critical applications. The only alternative is Groove and that's owned by Microsoft. It also costs quite a bit. JXTA is open source and it is simple to set up your own P2P network for pennies on the dollar.
Where is the market? Where are the applications? They are in a lot of places from the military to telecom. I have consulted with a bunch of companies, plus there are many listed at jxta.org.
The latest startup I've been working with is called Kerika. They have a really cool tool that is best described as a graphical wiki. The workspace is sort of like a drawing tool mixed with the ability to add text, images, and documents but also relate them with connecting lines. The symbols can be clicked to reveal an even deeper view. Sort of like mind mapping, but this tools also adds collaboration and sharing to the mix. I think it is one of the coolest applications for P2P and it is written in 100% Java with Swing, but has its own look that is very clean and professional. They have just started their beta program, so the product is free, so check Kerika out.
Overall, it has been an amazing 5 years. JXTA is out in the real world and is doing a great job. We have a lot to grow. But that also means there is opportunities everywhere!
JXTA is just about to turn 5 years old. Daniel Brookshier talks about what has happened and the future for JXTA.