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Open source vendors focus on SOA coders

SOA and REST product releases from MuleSource Inc. and WSO2 Inc. focus on developer productivity.

Open source vendors MuleSource Inc. and WSO2 Inc. are focusing on making life easier for coders working on service-oriented architecture (SOA) projects.

We're trying to help developers build truly RESTful services.
Dan Diephouse
Software ArchitectMuleSource

The companies announced new products this week aimed at the SOA developer community. MuleSource is releasing Mule 2.0 Community Edition, its new Eclipse-based IDE and providing a RESTpack to help coders transition to using Representational State Transfer (REST). WSO2 is releasing a version of its Web Services Framework to support development working with the popular Spring framework.

There is a common thread in these announcements, which is that open source vendors are focused on making it easier for developers to use frameworks for coding SOA, said Bradley F. Shimmin, principal analyst of application infrastructure at Current Analysis LLC.

"The open source vendors are much more sensitive to the developer community than you see from the larger closed-source platform vendors," Shimmin said. "Although those platform vendors are great on tools, it's really the smaller companies like MuleSource, WSO2, Red Hat and Iona, as well as Sun that are keenly aware of just how much work goes into building an application."

Arguing that closed source tools have made development "unnecessarily complicated," Sanjiva Weerawarana, CEO of WSO2, said his company is specifically focusing on making the open source tools easier to work with.

While Spring has a reputation for making coders more productive, Shimmin said WSO2 is adding functionality aimed specifically at helping SOA developers.

"Spring has always been good at writing basic POJOs," the analyst said. "But when it came to writing Java applications integrated inside an SOA-based Web services environment, you had to step away from your normal role to make a WSDL contract, starting with XML Schema and then build the code."

The WSO2 Web Services Framework for Spring puts these tasks into a process that the Spring developers are used to, Shimmin said.

"So they can create their POJO first and then tie it into a SOA-based WSDL," he explained. "That is making Spring even easier to use for developers working in SOA environments."

Shimmin said what WSO2 has done is complementary rather than competitive with Spring, which is something that differentiates the open source community from the proprietary vendors.

"I wouldn't be surprise if Spring Source didn't pick up this approach and included it in their next release," the analyst said. "That's the way the open source community works. It's not a competitive thing. It's one of those great examples of how the open source community makes these technological platforms more valuable by having more people contribute to them."

Mule at REST
The theme of open source focusing on helping developers adapt to new technology is also reflected in the MuleSource RESTpack, said Dan Diephouse, the creator of XFire, who joined MuleSource in 2007 as software architect. He said that despite the apparent straightforward nature of REST, architects and developers find it confusing when they set out to use it in an application.

For more information
REST needs tools for SOA, XFire creator says

Open source ESB and REST-based SOA

While SOA architects may appreciate the basic simplicity of the REST concept, they have questions about implementation, Diephouse said. How do you model services? How do you manage state? How do you ensure that your application is secure?

With the RESTpack, MuleSource is providing tools, tutorials and documentation to help architects and developers get started with REST, the architect said.

"We're trying to help developers build truly RESTful services," Diephouse said. "Mule does really well at bringing together this RESTful world into a cohesive fashion, which a lot of people have struggled with before."

Mule 2.0 Community Edition, also available for download beginning this week, provides new features including:

  • Eclipse-based IDE with visual drag-and-drop capabilities
  • XML schema and simplified APIs designed to make configuring Mule easier
  • Improved Spring integration for integrating and configuring Java applications
  • Improved Web services support via Apache CXF

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