Oracle: Open source keeps vendors on their toes

The specter of open source forces large software vendors to stay on their toes and nurtures innovation, an Oracle official said during a presentation at TheServerSide Java Symposium on Thursday afternoon.

Noting competitive pressures from open source, Oracle's Ted Farrell, chief architect and vice president of tools and middleware, said if Oracle is to compete with a free, open source solution, then "we have to do it better."

Open source empowers developers, he said.

"As developers, we like open source because we feel as if it's the little guy sticking it to the big guy," Farrell said. "And it is true to some extent."

Listing open source "myths," Farrell disputed the notion that the main attraction of open source is it is free. Many companies would pay for their open source software if they had to, he said.

Oracle has been supportive of open source efforts in areas such as Linux, he said. But open source options are limited for large companies deploying applications, he said. Customers will seek best-of-breed applications, he said.

Oracle is developing an AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) rendering kit to function with its JavaServer Faces components, Farrell said. The kit would enable AJAX-based development of graphical applications that use the components.

The kit is expected to be released later this year, preceded by a beta developer release. Oracle has not made a decision on whether the product will be free or fee-based, although similar offerings have been free, Farrell said.

Farrell had nothing new to report on Oracle's supposed interest in acquiring open source application server vendor JBoss.

"I've heard the rumors, but I don't know anything more than that," Farrell said.

Also at the conference, Rod Johnson, CEO of Interface21, touted the new Spring 2.0 Java application framework, featuring ease of use, XML configuration enhancements and improvements in AOP (aspect-oriented programming).

Spring originally emerged around 2002. "The starting goal was to help reduce the complexity of J2EE development, and this was based on our strong belief that it was possible to simplify without sacrificing power and that has been pretty well accepted," Johnson said.

XML configuration enhancements in Version 2.0 include the ability to define new XML tags. In AOP, Version 2.0 is more tightly integrated with AspectJ technology, which provides an aspect-oriented extension to Java.

Migrating applications to Spring 2.0 is not a problem, Johnson said. "Nothing will break at all. You should be able to drop in a Spring 2.0 JAR [Java Archive] and all your existing configurations will work," he said.

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