Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform Project (Virgo)

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Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform Project (Virgo)

The Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform project (nicknamed Virgo) is a proposed open source project under the Eclipse Runtime Project.

This proposal is in the Project Proposal Phase (as defined in the Eclipse Development Process) and is written to declare its intent and scope. We solicit additional participation and input from the Eclipse community. Please send all feedback to the Virgo Eclipse Forum.

Introduction

This proposal recommends the creation of a new project called "Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform", nicknamed Virgo, to provide a runtime platform for the development of server-side enterprise applications built on top of Equinox, and optionally using modules from the Gemini project1. Virgo will be a subproject of the Eclipse Runtime Project and will strive to leverage the functionality of existing projects. We encourage and request additional participation and input from any and all interested parties in the Eclipse community.

Background

The development of server-side enterprise applications, packaged as OSGi bundles, and deployed to an Equinox based runtime has proven to require considerable support at runtime over and above that provided by the OSGi Service Platform itself. SpringSource have gained considerable expertise in this area over the last few years through the development of the dm Server open source project. Other projects such as Apache Karaf, Apache Aries, and Paremus' Newton also explore this space. Some of the key requirements include:

  • a notion of an "application" as an entity comprised of one or more bundles
  • deployment and provisioning of applications and their dependencies
  • scoping of applications (bundles and services)
  • support for use of third-party enterprise libraries within an OSGi context
  • configuration, administration and management support

The Virgo project will develop a Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform runtime that supports these requirements by building on top of Equinox, the initial contributions to the Virgo project will be made by SpringSource based upon the dm Server codebase. See the section on Initial Contributions below for more details.

Scope

The scope of the Virgo project is restricted to:

  • the development of an Equinox-based dynamic runtime platform for server-side enterprise applications deployed as OSGi bundles

Developer tools supporting the runtime platform are out of scope for Virgo, see the following section on related contributions below for details of how these requirements will be addressed.

Description

The goal of the Virgo project is to provide a Dynamic Enterprise Application Platform for the development of server-side enterprise applications based on Equinox. Examples of server-side enterprise applications include web applications, integration applications, batch processing applications, or any combination thereof.

The core components of Virgo at inception will be:

  • a dynamic enterprise kernel supporting the core application, deployment, and provisioning model
  • an integrated server runtime that builds on top of the kernel and adds in web container, configuration, and administration support
  • a remote repository application for hosting a remote provisioning repository
  • the medic module, providing configurable per-application logging services for enterprise applications deployed to the kernel.

Virgo will be licensed under the EPL.

Relationship to existing Eclipse projects

RCP and RAP

Virgo complements the Eclipse RT Rich Client Platform (RCP), which targets the development of rich client applications based on Equinox, and the Rich Ajax Platform (RAP), which targets the development of rich Ajax-enabled web applications. Whereas these projects are focused on rich client applications, Virgo targets server-side applications.

Equinox

Virgo is built on top of Equinox and embeds the Equinox runtime in its distribution. Virgo takes advantage of leading edge features in Equinox such as the developing support for nested frameworks. In addition, Virgo will depend upon the Event Admin and Configuration Admin implementations from Equinox. The existing dm Server code uses the Apache Felix versions of these services, and the intention is to migrate to the Equinox implementations once the Virgo project is established.

Gemini

Virgo provides a runtime enterprise application model on top of Equinox, with integrated application and provisioning support. The Gemini project at Eclipse.org provides implementations of enterprise capabilities that can be exploited by such applications. The Virgo kernel provides just the foundational capabilities and depends solely on the Gemini Blueprint Service project. The Virgo server distribution pre-integrates the Gemini Web Container and Blueprint Service projects. Additional capabilities provided by Gemini projects can easily be added to the Virgo Server simply by deploying the appropriate bundle provided by those projects.

Jetty

The Virgo server obtains its web application support via the Eclipse Gemini Web Container project. This project in turn uses an embedded Apache Tomcat servlet container. For Virgo to support Jetty, two thin adapters will be written in collaboration with the Jetty team. The adapters will reside in Gemini and Virgo and will be maintained by the committers of those projects.

ECF

The Virgo Server provides a core application, provisioning, and administration model. The Eclipse Communication Framework (ECF) provides bundles that support the creation of distributed applications, including support for the Distributed OSGi specification from R4.2 of the OSGi Compendium Services specification. ECF bundles can be deployed into a Virgo runtime to support the development of distributed server-side applications.

P2

Equinox p2 is the Eclipse provisioning framework first introduced in Eclipse 3.4. Provisioning in Virgo is based on the configuration of a repository chain, where a repository implements a specified repository interface. By implementing a p2-backed version of the Virgo repository interface, it will be possible to integrate p2-based provisioning with the Virgo runtime.

Swordfish

Swordfish is an OSGi-based SOA framework that builds on Apache ServiceMix and Apache CXF to create a distributed Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Whereas Swordfish builds on JBI (Java Business Integration) to support a web services based communication model, Virgo is neutral with respect to application style and provides no explicit support for business processes or web services.

Initial Contribution

The initial contributions for Virgo and its related contributions (see below) will be made by SpringSource from the existing SpringSource dm Server, dm Server Tools, and Bundlor projects.

The SpringSource dm Server project has been under active development for over two years, and version 2.0 was released in January 2010. The project is well known within the enterprise OSGi community for pioneering the use of OSGi not just as a means for building an application server, but also as the means for building applications to be deployed to that server. The current dm Server project page can be found at http://www.springsource.org/dmserver. The dm Server today is an open source project released under the GPL (some parts of the code base are licensed under the Apache License, version 2). All of the code from the dm Server project will be relicensed under the EPL as part of the donation to Eclipse.org.

Through a rich set of interactions with a user community of both open source and commercial developers over the last two years, the dm Server has evolved a key set of capabilities and features needed to build enterprise applications on OSGi. Customer case studies relating to the use of dm Server in industry can be found on the SpringSource web site.

The online Programmers Guide details the supported deployment formats (regular bundles, WAR files, PAR files - a packaging construct that groups related bundles into an application, Plan files - a description of resources to be installed into the server, and properties files), how to build web applications taking advantage of shared libraries and shared services, and how to work with common third-party enterprise libraries. The dm Server runtime contains extensive support to enable third-party enterprise libraries to work "out of the box" in an OSGi Service Platform - handling issues such as context class loading, JPA instrumentation, load-time weaving, resource loading and more.

The dm Server User Guide covers the installation and administration features including the administration console and the shell. It also discusses the provisioning and repository support, and the extensive serviceability features built into the server: event logging, per-application tracing, and service dump support.

Legal Issues

The Bundlor trademark will be assigned to the Eclipse Foundation as part of this move.

Committers

The following individuals are proposed as initial committers to the project:

  • Andy Wilkinson, SpringSource
  • Ben Hale, SpringSource
  • Chris Frost, SpringSource
  • Christian Dupuis, SpringSource
  • Costin Leau, SpringSource
  • Glyn Normington, SpringSource (Project Lead)
  • Leo Dos Santos, Tasktop
  • Rob Harrop, SpringSource
  • Steffen Pingel, Tasktop
  • Steve Powell, SpringSource

Mentors

The following Architecture Council members will mentor this project:

  • Jeff McAffer
  • Mik Kersten

Interested Parties

The following individuals, organisations, companies and projects have expressed interest in this project:

  • Tasktop
  • SAP

Related Contributions

Developer tools that provide support for Virgo are out of scope for the Virgo project as part of Eclipse RT. However, the Virgo team also propose to work with the existing WTP and PDE projects to contribute relevant developer tools for Virgo to those projects. These contributions will be based upon the existing Bundlor and dm Server development tools projects detailed below.

Bundlor

The Bundlor project is designed to help enterprise application developers create and maintain high quality manifests for their bundles. Bundlor is currently hosted at springsource.org.

With the increasing focus on OSGi in Enterprise Java, there is a need to create OSGi bundles for deployment. Bundlor provides a manifest templating mechanism that makes it much easier for developers to create and maintain high quality OSGi manifests for their bundles and can be integrated into both a build system and the Eclipse IDE. Bundlor is also very useful for generating manifests for existing enterprise libraries that you may wish to use in conjunction with your project and which are not already packaged as OSGi bundles.

It can be very hard for a developer to know exactly what dependencies a library or project requires using simple inspection, and maintaining this list over time is error prone. Bundlor is a tool that automates the detection of dependencies and the creation of OSGi manifest directives for JARs after their creation. Bundlor takes as input a JAR and a template consisting of a superset of the standard OSGi manifest headers. Bundlor analyses the source code and support files contained in the JAR, applies the template to the results, and generates a manifest. Currently Bundlor can detect dependencies in Java source code, Spring configuration files, JPA configuration files, Hibernate mapping files, and web.xml files.

The use of Bundlor can take different forms, from tasks for Apache ANT and plugins for Apache Maven, to simple command line execution for integration into any existing build system. An overview of using Bundlor from inside Eclipse is provided on the SpringSource blog.

The Bundlor User Guide provides full details of these capabilities. Bundlor operates at the OSGi Service Platform level, and does not contain any explicit support for Eclipse Plugin Development. The Eclipse PDE project provides tools to create, develop, test, debug, build and deploy Eclipse plug-ins, fragments, features, update sites and RCP products. The scope of the PDE project also includes the provision of "comprehensive OSGi tooling, which makes it an ideal environment for component programming, not just Eclipse plug-in development". Bundlor is a very good match with this latter remit, and is proposed for contribution to Eclipse.org as a PDE Component.

The PDE "New Plug-in from Existing JAR Archives" wizard contains functionality that overlaps in part with Bundlor, in that it can be used to generate a manifest for existing jar files. Unlike Bundlor, the manifest generation is not controllable via template, and does not understand non-source code artefacts commonly used in enterprise projects. Bundlor could be used behind the scenes in this wizard for enhanced manifest generation if so desired.

Virgo Development Tools

The existing dm Server tools project at SpringSource.org provides functionality that may be contributed to the WTP5 and PDE projects. This support includes:

    PDE user interface extensions
    • editor support for Virgo PAR files and Plan files;
    • a Bundle Classpath Container that manages a bundle project's classpath based on a manifest (with incremental manifest generation via Bundlor);
    • Manifest editing and validation support: content-assist, hyperlinking and validation for manifests, with quick fixes for common problems
  • WTP integration for the Virgo server platform
    • drag-and-drop deployment
    • graphical bundle & packages overview
    • integrated shell support
    • integrated provisioning for Virgo repository management

The PDE project currently provides a manifest editor with multiple pages, including support for plugin.xml artefacts. The dm Server tools editor is focused on the job of editing OSGi manifests for developers who are creating enterprise OSGi bundles (not Eclipse plugins). The features in common between the two editors have a shared look-and-feel.

The ideal direction would be to create a Bundle Development Environment (BDE) on top of which PDE could build in the future.

For more information on the dm Server tools capabilities, see the following SpringSource blog entry, and the STS New and Noteworthy documentation for the latest release.

Project Scheduling

The initial milestone will be to get the IP code contributions for these projects approved, and the projects provisioned on Eclipse.org infrastructure. This will be based off of the 2.0 release version of the donor projects. A provisional plan for subsequent development is to release a 2.0.1 service release in 1Q10, and a 2.1 release alongside the 2010 Eclipse release train. The intention is for the Virgo project to become a formal part of the release train in 2011.

Changes to this Document

Date Change
25-Jan-2010 Section concerning Virgo's relationship with Jetty updated.
12-Jan-2010 Document created