Weblogic Workshop is really an intriguing piece of work. It was built by former Microsoft employess (i.e. Crossgain) who felt that they could do a better job than their employer in implementing Web Services. So, when Workshop first appeared to the world, it was billed as the technology that would make Web Service development painless and therefore possibly mainstream. In addition, Weblogic Workshop was also billed as an IDE that would bring VB ease of use to the Java masses.
Unfortunately for Workshop the battle field wasn’t what they had planned. Web Services did not catch like wildfire and IBM’s Eclipse IDE was taking the world by storm. In short, since it’s initial release, there’s been almost little buzz about the tool.
Anyway, I had the opportunity to take another look at the Weblogic Workshop, this time version 8.1 and I’ve got to admit, I’m pleasantly impressed. To get a good feel of what’s new, you can find the details at BEA’s dev2dev site.
The first feature that surprised me was a Struts compatible environment for visually composing page flows. The second, and I believe most innovative feature, is the exposure of customizable “controls” ( BEA should choose a different name for these things, the word is just too ambiguous).
What BEA seems to have done is to have taken their technology for handling asynchronous Web Services and moved it to handle local Java objects. They’ve essentially created a component model that has asychronous invocation semantics. In addition to asychronous invocation, they’ve added message buffering and conversational support.
Although it appears to be just like standard JavaBean like components, it actually is quite different. That is, it emphasizes a more loosely coupled approach to component composition. Furthermore, if you look a little bit closer, it seems to automate the building of adapters to controls. Something like Adapter based programming of PyProtocols.