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Q&A with Bob McWhirter on WildFly Swarm Rename to Thorntail

| by Kesha Williams Follow 1 Followers on May 14, 2018. Estimated reading time: 3 minutes |

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In early 2015, Red Hat released Wildfly Swarm, which allows Java EE based applications to run as microservices. The approach allowed developers to migrate Java EE monolith applications to microservices by creating an uber-JAR that not only contains the Java program but embeds its dependencies as well. Wildfly Swarm was recently renamed to Thorntail. 

InfoQ recently sat down with Bob McWhirter, senior consulting engineer at Red Hat, and discussed what prompted the name change, what went into picking the new name, details about the new logo, advantages of Thorntail over its competitors, 2018 plans, and how developers can get involved.

InfoQ: Could you briefly introduce yourself, your role at Red Hat and specifically on the Thorntail project?

Bob McWhirter: I’m Bob McWhirter, senior consulting engineer with Red Hat. I both contribute to the architecture of the Thorntail project and also manage the Research & Prototyping group which is working on other exciting technologies such as serverless.

InfoQ: Why did Red Hat decide to rename Wildfly Swarm to Thorntail?

McWhirter: While we lived with "WildFly Swarm" as a name for a few years, we noticed that "Swarm" is fairly overloaded, with many companies and projects using it. Additionally, as we move forward with a new architecture for the project, including "WildFly" in the name started to make less sense. When we started, we were absolutely an extension to the core WildFly project, but we’ve grown into our own, and needed our own identity. Given both of those reasons, we decided a new name was in order.

InfoQ: How did you decide on the name Thorntail?

McWhirter: Since we are Red Hat, and we enjoy community involvement, we took some candidates to the community for a vote. Unfortunately, since we’re engineers, we did not necessarily get all the candidates approved by the Legal Department (or our own bosses) prior to the vote. Ultimately, the names voted most highly by the community did not clear the trademark search guidance from Legal. And our other favorite names (such as RockShrimp) were voted down by senior management.

So, we dropped into the free-form field where community members could suggest names, and we found Thorntail, which met with the approval of both Legal and Mark Little.

A Thorntail is a type of hummingbird, so we hope it’ll lend itself to an interesting logo.

InfoQ: When will the new Thorntail logo be released? What was the driving factor in releasing the new name before the logo?

McWhirter: The logo is being worked on currently by the awesome JBoss.org design team. We hope to have some candidates in the coming weeks. We wanted to release the name prior to the logo because of Red Hat Summit, plus we wanted to push the new v4.x proof-of-concept of the new architecture. 

InfoQ: With the new name comes a new versioning strategy, any other changes?

McWhirter: We learned that using the year.month versioning strategy was generally sub-par, as it did not allow us to communicate breaking changes very well. With the new proposed architecture, it would be difficult to run it in parallel with the current codebase, if both were versioned using the date-based versioning.  Now we can continue with the current 2.x line of code, while also making the 4.x available. 

InfoQ: What advantages does Thorntail provide over other popular microservices frameworks?

McWhirter: Thorntail has always provided and will continue to provide the core technologies that WildFly is based upon, with the weight of Red Hat behind it. This includes Undertow, RestEasy, Weld and other top-notch implementations of Java and MicroProfile specifications. In general, this allows a developer to take the technologies they’ve been familiar with for years, and apply them to microservices.

InfoQ: What are the plans for Thorntail in 2018?

McWhirter: We intend to continue tracking the advance Jakarta EE is making, along with MicroProfile.  We’re aiming to have much tighter integration with OpenShift, and looking at where Thorntail can integrate with the Apache OpenWhisk project that Red Hat is using for its serverless offering. 

InfoQ: Thanks for taking time to speak to us today. Is there anything else you would like to share with the InfoQ readers? What is the best way to get involved in the future of Thorntail?

McWhirter: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the Thorntail rename and new architecture! The best way to get involved is through our IRC channel on FreeNode (#thorntail), our GitHub repositories, and through our Google Group

Additional information on Thorntail can be found on the Thorntail website.

Readers can also keep up-to-date with all Java-related news by visiting the InfoQ Java homepage.

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