ADF Faces – The Next Really Big thing from Oracle Development (ODTUG Wrap Up – Part II)

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One of the important threads through the entire ODTUG 2005 Conference last week was the future of JDeveloper and Oracle’s position in the Java/J2EE Arena in general.

It turns out that our assumptions from last Tuesday about the licensing policy for Oracle JDeveloper were justified: see Mike O’Neill (Oracle Product Director) on The Server Side:

Our announcement (officially on Tuesday 28th June) doesn’t mean that JDeveloper is dead. Quite the reverse. Developers expect tools and technologies to be free: removing JDeveloper’s price tag is a critical part of our Java and SOA strategy. It makes it easier for developers to acquire, adopt and work with our technologies.

Oracle ADF is a complete application development framework which includes components, such as Oracle ADF Data binding (JSR 227), Oracle ADF Faces, and more. We are changing the licensing for Oracle ADF as well: we will license ADF in the same manner as we license TopLink. In fact, we are creating a new bundle combining the TopLink and ADF runtimes.

TopLink-ADF runtime is free-of-charge with all editions of Oracle Application Server. If you deploy to other J2EE application servers, you can also purchase a license to the combined TopLink-ADF bundle. The Oracle ADF Faces component library is part of this package and will be licensed accordingly (See Mike O’s post). That said, we are already working with the MyFaces team, and will increase our involvement and contribution to the MyFaces project to make sure that JSF succeeds. As part of this effort our intentions are to investigate how, and what parts of Oracle ADF Faces we can contribute to the MyFaces project.

ADF design-time will continue to be included with JDeveloper–you will be able to run ADF applications on the OC4J instance included with JDeveloper for development, testing and debugging.

Our involvement with Eclipse and MyFaces is actually about advancing the use of JavaServer Faces. We want JSF to succeed, and the best way to guarantee that is to a) help ensure the success of the leading open source JSF implementation, and b) provide JSF tooling for Eclipse. It’s really a continuation of our prior involvement with Eclipse for EJB 3.0 tooling.

Final note: as someone suggested in an earlier post, JDeveloper is more than just a Java IDE. In addition to the PL/SQL development tools he talked about, JDeveloper includes UML modeling, code analysis, code optimization, BPEL process modeling, and visual editors for JSPs, HTML, Swing, JSF and Struts, plus portlet, web service and XML development. You should take a look.

ADF Faces – the big thing

Oracle is quite clear on what it considers to be the most important technological development of this moment in the J2EE Arena: Java Server Faces. Released in March 2004, JSF has been on the drawing board since 2001. It has been receiving a lot of interest, but until now it has not really gotten off the ground. We currently have the Reference Implementation (RI) from Sun as well as the Open Source MyFaces implementation from Apache.

Oracle has evolved its UIX technology (which dates back to at least 2001 as well) into a set of very rich and powerful new JSF Components, called ADF Faces. ADF Faces is Oracle’s implementation for the JSF standard. People familiar with UIX will easily recognize the powerful functionality of these components; it is HTML, but you would almost forget that.

Oracle is betting the bank big time on ADF Faces. The Oracle E-Business Suite is slated to be developed using ADF Faces – although currently the Fusion technology stack resulting from the merger with PeopleSoft may slight impact the plans. Oracle very much believes in JSF. To make it a success, it will not only make ADF Faces available to its Application Server customers. It also plans on releasing a bundle for TopLink, ADF Binding Framework, ADF Business Components (presumably) and ADF Faces, as a stand alone package that can be run on any application server. It is not clear yet what this stand alone bundle will cost. There may also be a stand-alone license for just ADF Faces, but there are no details on that.

In addition, Oracle will make contributions to the Apache MyFaces project. Presumably, bits and pieces from ADF Faces – or at the very least the experience from the ADF Faces development effort – will be poured into MyFaces. Making JSF a success is very important for Oracle. With UIX it has demonstrated that very rich User Interfaces can be developed productively, using standard HTML technology. UIX is used extensively in the Oracle E-Business Suite, Enterprise Manager, Collaboration Suite and BI products.

JSF will take this to the next level: user interfaces can be developed productively, in a standard manner, using various implementations. JSF uses an event model that is not unlike the event-trigger model we know from 4GL environments such as PowerBuilder, Visual Basic and Oracle Forms and that also resembles the Java Swing experience. IDEs will provide JSF support that allows Visual Development of JSF applications. For productive development of rich user interfaces, you really do not need to resort to Client/Server Technologies or Java Swing/Applet based technologies.

Oracle wants J2EE to successfully compete with for example .Net, even the area of productive development of rich user interfaces. Through ADF Faces (and to some extent MyFaces), that it will use throughout its product portfolio, it strengthens the JSF proposition.

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About Author

Lucas Jellema, active in IT (and with Oracle) since 1994. Oracle ACE Director for Fusion Middleware. Consultant, trainer and instructor on diverse areas including Oracle Database (SQL & PLSQL), Service Oriented Architecture, BPM, ADF, Java in various shapes and forms and many other things. Author of the Oracle Press book: Oracle SOA Suite 11g Handbook. Frequent presenter on conferences such as JavaOne, Oracle OpenWorld, ODTUG Kaleidoscope, Devoxx and OBUG. Presenter for Oracle University Celebrity specials.

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