BEA had invited people across India for attending their TechDays sessions of which Adobe was the event partner. I had registered for it almost a month ago. It was held on May 9th Friday at The Leela, a five star hotel in Andheri, Mumbai. The timings for the session were from 9:00 am till 12:00 pm and no registration nor event fees were taken. Here is my experience about the entire event.
The session was primarily held for the developers community and less for the corporate. This provided a relief as there weren’t much marketing gimmicks being played and the speakers were purely techie guys which proved to be an onus. BEA has upgraded their Weblogic Server to version 10.2 and their Workshop too. I had worked on the BEA workshop studio and Aqualogic platform for ESB earlier. So my main interests lied in what new features these upgraded products had in their offerings. After having attending this session I am now all the more excited to work in the BEA platform.
Although many people were awestruck with the features and some felt jealous for continuing to work on the older versions at their workplace, one thing was going through the minds of many including mine. The question was as to what was the road map for these BEA products since now the acquisition by Oracle has got completed. There was a slight wave of concern over this merger on the current developers as well as for those who wanted to adopt to the BEA environment in future. Would Oracle continue to support active upgradation to these wonderful products or take away the key features from them to promote its own products? The concerns were raised higher during the session when the BEA guys told us that were not too sure of the road map either. We will have to keep fingers crossed for that.
There were 3 speakers for the entire session out of which 2 were from BEA, now christened Oracle BEA and one evangelist from Adobe. You may wonder where does Adobe form a part of the BEA endeavor? I was curious too. The curiosity was cleared by one of the BEA speakers on mentioning that Adobe had integrated its Flex platform for the BEA environment. Piggybacking for publicity you may call. But it is actually awesome.
BEA Java2SOA Revolution
The session started with the first speaker Sandeep Sonkusale who is a certified SOA Solution Architect for BEA speaking on the aspects of why an organization has to choose to the SOA infrastructure and the underlying benefits that SOA would provide. The briefing was accompanied with several high profile diagrams of how the world would be revolutionized if SOA would be adopted. I could see many people yawning to glory for this completely hypothetical preachy stuff. All were waiting for the meaty part i.e how to go about doing it. After waiting for almost 45 minutes for the briefing to get over, we felt a wave of relief when the second speaker took over with his laptop and workshop running on the presentation screen.
The second speaker was a young and smart looking Anil Sharma from the BEA product development team. His ascent was really professional. Right from the start to the end of a 2 hour long demo he had his cool even though people bombarded him with several technical queries. The demo given was on the entire new version of the BEA Workshop Studio. It is now entirely eclipse based and has all the earlier separate workshops integrated into one. This means that having workshop installed on your system you can build all the components of J2EE architecture, create web services, build beehive controls for exposing the J2EE components as services, convert these controls to web services, perform BPM process flows and later expose them too as services, connect all controls or services to Aqualogic Service Bus, convert the services to presentation portals and much much more. Phew! This entire demo was a roller coaster for me but it was real fun.
The key points which I found to be useful were the ones which the speaker was emphasizing on and on. It is not necessary that you need to create web services for making your architecture SOA enabled. You can have services like EJB services, custom control services as well web services to make an SOA. Controls are used to expose EJB’s or POJO’s as services and these are not Weblogic specific. In fact they are Apache Beehive controls which are a part of JSR 175, hence vendor lock-in can be avoided. I am not too sure if any other J2EE provider has beehive controls implementation apart from Weblogic 10.2. The interfaces and implementations of web services are done using the JSR-181 constructs.
I got to understand the use of BPM through this session. Before this, I was really hazy as to which use cases BPM really favors. Anil, through his demo explained this in a peculiar scenario. When there is a need to have an entire stateful process as a service it can be implemented as a BPM workflow through the Workshop itself. This can be further exposed as a service. Services can be further integrated into the Aqualogic Service Bus (ALSB) for implementing a transactional service workflow. It is important to note that the services integrated into the service bus must support transaction to have transactional behavior.
The major surprise to me was the merger of DSP into the Workshop. In between the workflow wherever you need a transformation of data you can easily use Data Services transformation either through XQuery or Java right within the workflow. This was something amazing.
Finally shown, were the presentation services based on Weblogic Portal platform. In order to create presentation services BEA workshop comes built in with NetUI which is the pageflow modeller for the Struts framework. Using NetUI you can create Struts JSP views directly from exposed services which further can be converted to WSRP portlets and integrated into the application portal. The most surprising aspect of the WSRP portlets is that you can access the portlet remotely too. This means that your view would be actually rendered from a remote server!
Adobe – Getting More and More Flexy
From 9:30 am to 12:15 pm the BEA guys took the center stage. The Adobe guy was nowhere to be seen. Right at 12:15 pm he popped from somewhere with his laptop and took charge. His session may have been just a 45 minute one but the impact was majestic. He transformed the crowd of almost 200 odd people to the edge of their seats and eyes wide gaping to the screen with his magical Flex demo. It was showtime for Raghu Rao, evangelist for the Flex platform for Adobe. His charisma was attention capturing and the way he breezed through the Flex demo, he left the geek’s including me, craving for more.
The presentation involved the showcase of Flex as a presentation level service for the BEA platform. He presented how Flex can be used for accessing the services exposed from the BEA environment into the presentation tier. This included the use of the commercial Adobe product LCDS which is an enterprise level Flex platform for services. If you do not want to go the paid way, you can use BlazeDS which is a open source freeware, but with limited capabilities, suitable for small applications. Using these you can make callouts to the hosted services using the Action Message Format (AMF) for remote calls.
The major source attraction proved to be the Flex demo’s, which included the Nokia Shop and a sample consumer application. The Flex charts components and 3rd party flex UI components such as coverflow component and the Flex Book component snatched away everyone’s breath.
Such sessions really help in accessing the direction of where technology is heading to. I am thankful to Anil and Raghu who personally cleared my confusions over some aspects offline. I felt bad to keep Raghu away from his food since I kept him bugging with my questions. He had to catch a flight to Bangalore a little while later. If you would like to evaluate the all new BEA Weblogic 10.2 platform head straight towards their eval guide for getting started and also win a 32 GB Ipod by taking this survey. 🙂
Check out the day’s captures on my picassa web album.