Oracle releases Fusion Middleware 11g and JDeveloper Update

Oracle Corp. has launched the latest version of its long-anticipated middleware product family, Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g, to tightly integrate the company's technology with that acquired in Oracle's purchase of BEA Systems, combining upgraded versions of the company’s SOA process suite WebLogic app server technology, WebCenter services components, an identity management solution, and software development tools. The latter includes an update to its JDeveloper IDE as the company also signaled a move that developers should move to declarative programming.

Speaking to an audience gathered in downtown Washington, D.C. that was webcast, Oracle president Charles Phillips touted Fusion 11g as a unifying platform for all of those components. "This is the foundation of how we will develop and deploy technology in general, all of our applications and the resulting infrastructures attached, so it’s really the unifying point for a lot of things we are doing," Phillips said.

"We’ve been trying to build a single stack technology," he added calling the Fusion suite "a prefabricated environment based on standards," which can be "patched and upgraded" up and down the entire stack.

Move to declarative programming

The JDeveloper 11.1.1.1.0 with Fusion adds Oracle Metadata Services (MDS), which the company said enables customization via the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF).

Combined with Fusion, the new JDeveloper release provides a standards-based model view control-based declarative framework, based on Enterprise Java Beans, Java Server Faces and AJAX that allows developers to rapidly and visually build applications, said Oracle senior VP Thomas Kurain.

"One of the values of moving to a declarative design model is the description of the application is not buried in application logic that it’s been coded on," Kurian said. "A lot of the behavior of the application is captured in metadata, that metadata can then be managed in a dictionary or metadata directory and then business users can use a technology called Composer to customize the behavior of the application."

Declarative programming focuses on the "what" rather than the "how" in a program. Developers state what they want to happen at a higher level and let the engine inside the app worry about how that task is implemented, Hilwa said. It’s an approach geared toward the business developer. It shows up in Oracle’s Application Development Framework (ADF) as a metadata layer that describes the application and isolates changes.

"The declarative approach is not a new idea," Hilwa said, "but this is probably the first time it’s being used in such an expansive manner. If Oracle succeeds in pushing Fusion apps out to many enterprises, then this programming approach will be much more popular."

During a post-announcement conference call, Ted Farrell, Oracle’s chief architect and vice president of the Tools and Middleware group, said the declarative approach aims to get developers writing less code. "History shows us that the more code you write in your application, the more closely you are bound to a particular technology," Farrell said. "That makes it harder to deal with technology shifts when they happen. Using XML as a universal metadata platform, you can define your page, components, the interaction between them and how they connect the backend. And then the XML gets deployed as your runtime and our framework interprets it, and generates the standard technologies you’ve come to expect."

Farrell also talked up Fusion 11g’s approach to rich Internet application (RIA) development. "We believe in building RIAs and making that easier for the developers," he said. "But we want to abstract developers from that technology." The ADF takes care of the rendering to the different technologies — JavaScript, DHTML, Flash — the best technology for rendering, depending on the type of component and what it’s trying to do. When the view technologies change, we don’t have to go back to our customer and tell them to update their pages. We  make the updates in the framework."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley.

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