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BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1

BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1

Last year, BEA introduced WebLogic Workshop, a revolutionary product based on declarative annotations that took away most of the pain and aggravation of developing J2EE-based Web services on the WebLogic Application Server platform. Not being satisfied with just Web services, BEA extended this technology with Workshop 8.1 to include Web applications, portals, and other J2EE integration-based applications.

New Features
For development of loosely coupled applications that can maintain their public contract while underlying data structures change, WebLogic Workshop 8.1 now includes support for XML Schema and XQuery Mapping. Based on the XQuery XML standard, the visual mapping tool allows you to map XML elements to Java data elements by simply performing point-and-click operations. In addition to straight one-to-one mapping, you can also use a number of built-in XQuery functions such as "concat," allowing you to combine various fields into one. All of the hard work of handling the complex data transformations is performed automatically.

In addition to XQuery, Workshop 8.1 provides support for XMLBeans, a strongly typed Java object interface for XML data that allows a developer to manipulate raw XML data using the productivity and flexibility benefits of the Java language.

Web Services Improvements
For Web services, WebLogic Workshop 8.1 now supports both the RPC and document-literal style of SOAP requests, making it easy to integrate with .NET-based Web services. Here's where I couldn't resist testing this one out. Using the Order Entry Service example that comes with Workshop, I fired up a copy of Microsoft Visual Studio .NET on another machine and within 5 minutes was able to create a .NET client for the Workshop example (using the generated WSDL) and successfully execute the service from a .NET ASP application. I need not say more.

Java Controls
WebLogic Workshop 8.1 includes a number of new Java Controls to help you connect to various IT assets, including FTP, e-mail, Tuxedo, Portal Server, Integration Server, and more. Remember that as a developer, interacting with a Java Control is the same for all types of back-end services. All you need to do is set various property settings and set up event handlers; the control itself handles all the hard stuff.

For all those proprietary legacy systems out there, Workshop 8.1 now enables you to create your own custom controls and also opens the door for custom third-party vendors and ISPs to develop Java Controls.

Java Page Flow View
One of the major new changes to Workshop is the introduction of a visual development interface for Java Page Flow (JPF) files. This approach, based on the Struts Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture, allows you to visually see the flow of a Web application, including user action decision flow and business logic. Tag libraries and drag-and-drop wizards are included to help you bind information on each page to external data sources, including databases, Web services, and Java controls. Workshop automatically provides support for sessions and state management.

Workshop IDE
The WebLogic Workshop 8.1 IDE itself is well organized and provides you with various views, editors, property panels, etc., to assist you in your development work (see Figure 1). When using pre-built Java Controls to your back end, you can literally create a Web service as fast as you can drag and drop Java Controls and methods into the design view panel. The IDE includes framework extensions for both WebLogic Portal 8.1 and WebLogic Integration 8.1.

 

Conclusion
BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1 is a powerful tool for developing sophisticated J2EE-based applications requiring integration with Web service-based assets both within the enterprise and abroad. Workshop 8.1 allows anyone with minimal Java coding skills to do some fairly complex J2EE development. Its power and ease of use take most of the drudgery out of J2EE development, and present a new level of competition for competing architectural platforms that make a similar claim - specifically Visual Studio .NET.

Company Info
BEA Systems, Inc.
2315 North First Street
San Jose, CA 95131
Tele: 1.800.817.4232
Web: www.bea.com
E-mail: [email protected]

Download Information
Free one-year development subscription at
http://dev2dev.bea.com/subscriptions/index.jsp

Testing Environment
OS: Windows-XP
Hardware: 1GHZ Athlon, 1G RAM

More Stories By Joe Mitchko

Joe Mitchko is the editor-in-chief of WLDJ and a senior technical specialist for a leading consulting services company.

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