Saturday, January 2, 2010

A session bean alternative: Spring

Clearly, EJB 3 session beans are not your only option in developing your applica-
tion’s business tier. POJOs managed by lightweight containers such as Spring could
also be used to build the business logic tier. Before jumping on either the EJB 3
session bean or Spring bandwagon, think about what your needs are.
If your application needs robust support for accessing remote components or the
ability to seamlessly expose your business logic as web services, EJB 3 is the clear
choice. Spring also lacks good equivalents of instance pooling, automated session
state maintenance, and passivation/activation. Because of heavy use of annotations,
you can pretty much avoid “XML Hell” using EJB 3; the same cannot be said of Spring.
Moreover, because it is an integral part of the Java EE standard, the EJB container
is natively integrated with components such as JSF, JSP, servlets, the JTA transaction
manager, JMS providers, and Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS)
security providers of your application server. With Spring, you have to worry whether
your application server fully supports the framework with these native components
and other high-performance features like clustering, load balancing, and failover.
If you aren’t worried about such things, then Spring is not a bad choice at all and
even offers a few strengths of its own. The framework provides numerous simple,
elegant utilities for performing many common tasks such as the JdbcTemplate
and JmsTemplate. If you plan to use dependency injection with regular Java
classes, Spring is great since DI only works for container components in EJB 3.
Also, Spring AOP or AspectJ is a much more feature-rich (albeit slightly more com-
plex) choice than EJB 3 interceptors.
Nevertheless, if portability, standardization, and vendor support are important to
you, EJB 3 may be the way to go. EJB 3 is a mature product that is the organic
(though imperfect) result of the incremental effort, pooled resources, shared own-
ership, and measured consensus of numerous groups of people. This includes the
grassroots Java Community Process (JCP); some of the world’s most revered com-
mercial technology powerhouses like IBM, Sun, Oracle, and BEA; and spirited open-
source organizations like Apache and JBoss.

Source: Enterprise Java Beans 3 in Action,chapter 3, Manning publications, 2007

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