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Siwpas 1.0 - a Tomcat Based Server for EE6 Web Profile

by Kostis Kapelonis on May 24, 2011 |

MechSoft releases Siwpas, a lightweight application server based on Apache Tomcat that focuses exclusively on Web applications.

Siwpas is a Java application server based on Apache Tomcat 7 which comes bundled with:

  • JPA support powered by Apache OpenJPA
  • EJB support powered by Apache OpenEJB
  • CDI support powered by Apache OpenWebBeans
  • JSF support via Apache MyFaces
  • A proprietary service layer that facilitates easy component injection across all libraries enabling the Java EE 6 Web Profile.
  • A proprietary monitoring console (only in the Enterprise Edition)

 

We contacted Gurkan Erdogdu, Chief Technology Officer of MechSoft in order to find out more about Siwpas.

InfoQ: What is Siwpas exactly?

Siwpas stands for "Simple Web Profile Application Server". It is a lightweight Java application server aimed at implementing the Java EE Web Profile Specification. It is based on several Apache projects. Some of them are directly included with Siwpas (such as OpenJPA and MyFaces) and some of them were extended by MechSoft (such as OpenWebBeans and OpenEJB).

InfoQ: What is the target group of Siwpas? Existing Tomcat users? Developers who use full featured application servers?

Siwpas is closer to Tomcat than to heavyweight application servers, like WebLogic, WebSphere, JBoss, etc. It contains only the features needed for the Java EE 6 Web Profile. For example it does not include CORBA integration, JMS integration etc. You could easily implement a Java EE Web Profile application in minutes using Siwpas. Moreover, Siwpas is very fast compared to the full featured application servers. It starts in 2-3 seconds in commonly used environments. Redeployment time is very important for a development team. "Deploy/test" cycle time is quite decreased with Siwpas.

InfoQ: So is Siwpas just Tomcat + EJB + JPA +JSF or is there something more? Can one get the same functionality integrating the same Apache projects?

No, MechSoft has extended some of the libraries in order to accommodate the needs of the Java EE Web Profile. If a developer uses vanilla Tomcat and adds EJB, JPA and JSF to it, then he can not guarantee that EJBs can be injected into JSF beans, that CDI beans can be injected into Servlets, Filters, EJBs, CDI beans, and generally that all Java EE resource dependencies are correctly handled. According to the specifications, all Java EE Web Profile components must work together. For example, when your web application includes EJB, the web application JNDI context must share the JNDI context of the EJBs. You can not achieve this type of interoperability without writing an integration (kernel) layer. MechSoft implemented the kernel that holds all of these components in a uniform manner.

Moreover, Siwpas Enterprise Edition includes clustering and failover of stateful EJB and CDI beans with Tomcat native clustering. These features are not included in standard EJB or CDI implementations. They were implemented by MechSoft after extending the OpenEJB and OpenWebBeans implementations. Future releases will also include the WebSocket protocol and a Comet Protocol implementation.

InfoQ: Do you intend to be fully compliant with the Web Profile? Is the Web Profile important for developers? Is it important for you to be compliant? ?

Yes, at the moment we are trying to find a reasonable way to get the Java EE Web Profile TCK. To fully test Siwpas with the Java EE Web Profile TCK, MechSoft has to license it from Oracle. If we obtain it then we intend to certify Siwpas against the Java EE Web Profile. Profile compatibility is important for developers, but not everything since real applications need more than TCK compliance. For us, it is important however, to have Java EE Web Profile Certification.

InfoQ: How do you compete with Spring tc Server? They also offer a lightweight application server based on Tomcat along with some other extensions.

Spring tcServer is based on Tomcat + the Spring Framework. Siwpas is based on Tomcat + Java EE technologies. Java EE 6 is a lot simpler to use than the previous versions. If you look at the EJB 3.1 Lite specification, it is very easy to implement EJBs using transactions and security protection. When Spring was introduced, there was no Web Profile and compliant servers had to support the full J2EE specification (making them heavyweight). At that time, developing a web application with J2EE technologies was time consuming. This is not true anymore, because the Java EE 6 Web Profile includes only well defined components instead of everything an enterprise application might use. So the basic difference is that unlike Spring tc Server, Siwpas is based on the Java EE standards instead of a custom framework.

Siwpas comes in two editions: Community and Enterprise. The community edition is open source and comes with no official support. The Enterprise edition is based on the community one, and also contains among other features a proprietary web console for easier administration of the server. A demonstration video is also available.

An Eclipse plugin for deployments within the IDE was released as well.

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Nice article by Markos Fragkakis

Nice article. In many cases using full-blown app servers is such an overkill.

whats the point here? by Jason Dwyer

cant i pretty much do the same by packing hibernate into a webapp and deploying to vanilla tomcat?

i mean really! who is going to jump on jsf + ejb in a vendor wrapped tomcat? the guys running wsad dev environments?

there may indeed be semantics around the jee web profiles that i've missed, but having been running tomcat with hibernate3/jpa for years in many different projects, this seems like baggage on top of vanilla tomcat goodness to me

Re: whats the point here? by Gurkan Erdogdu

Hello Jason,

Please read the Java EE Web Profile Specification for understanding what is Siwpas. You can also read the Siwpas documentations.

There are lots of way implementing an enterprise web application. Siwpas provides infrastructure to deploy Java EE Web profile based applications that want to use web profile technologies that are more than JPA.

Re: whats the point here? by Eduard Korenschi

With all due respect, but considering that "full-blown" app servers are overkill is an overstatement nowadays. It's like saying Spring is light, and EJB (hinting 2.0) is very heavy. Don't put JBoss, Glassfish, Geronimo, Weblogic and Websphere in the same bucket of "over-bloated" app servers.
Try Glassfish 3.x or JBoss 7 and you'll see 2-3 seconds starts. And that with a very tested and jee 6 web-profile integrated stack and also a very clear upgrade path in case you need more advanced jee 6 support (jms, ws, etc). And I don't wanna say too much about glassfish's administration console (and jboss is going in the same direction lately).

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