After evaluating Weblogic Workshop 8.1 for a while I think this is what the J2EE community needs.
I have been working with Visual Studio .NET since the very first days. When I used it the first time I was very excited about how easy it is to create applications without all the plumbing. Due to this capabilities it was a lot of fun to deliver what I call Coding On Demand (COD) Workshops. That is gathering requirements and then code the solution together with the attendees. Unluckily it was not possbile to present COD/J2EE Workshops as it was nearly impossible to code an deploy an EJB from scratch in front of a waiting audience. It simply was too time consuming and boring.
But now Weblogic Workshop uses the same approach to create Applications as Visual Studio .NET. With help of code annotations (aka attributes) the compilers do all of the plumbing for the developer. Now one can code and deploy a enterprise level in a few minutes (ok, let’s say a small one).
The drawback is that you definitively loose vendor independence as the javadoc annotations are proprietary. But who cares? Everyone who has ever tried to change the application server knows that vendor independence is just a marketing promise. Let us face it. No vendor is really interested to allow the replacement of it’s product without costs. And most of the companies have strategic alliances for good reason.
Tools like Weblogic Workshop (WLW) are great to speed up the development. But the developer still has to know what happens inside the server in order to create sophisticated applications.
I’m glad about WLW as it gives me new opportunities to build more powerful applications in less time.
See A Study In Enterprise Development Productivity for a comparsion of API coding (with IBM WSAD) vs. using J2EE development framework (with BEA WLW) for further information.