Saturday, August 16, 2008

J2EE Application Servers and Eclipse plug-ins: Like going back in time

All this Application Server development is funny... it is like going back to 16-bit Windows (remember, back then,  if a single application crashed, everything went down with it). It is the same with this modern application servers, if one application goes crazy (infinite loop, very long and slow process, memory leak, etc), it will take down the application server, and there is no way around that that I know of (Same thing with Eclipse, if one plug-in goes crazy, everything goes down) it is funny (and sad at the same time) because so much time and resources were wasted trying to give processes proper isolation at the OS level, and now we are using technologies that make that effort irrelevant.

Perhaps, one day there will be a Multi-tasking Virtual Machine (MVM) that solves this problem by providing an efficient and scalable implementation of and infrastructure  for multiple, isolated tasks, enabling the co-location of multiple server instances in a single MVM process. Such a technology would also enable the restructuring of a J2EE server implementation as a collection of isolated components, offering increased flexibility and reliability. But in the mean time, we are left with application servers where that are inherently unsafe. And that is really bad, specially for development and prototyping(lots of time waiting for the shared components in a J2EE application server to reload if the application in development crashed it), but also for production (it is really risky to deploy a new system in to a J2EE, if it crashes, it will take down all the other applications). And the same things happen to “integrated” solutions like, Eclipse, or more general technologies, like OSGi, if a particular plug-in or service crashes, it will crash the entire application.

But the future for the MVM doesn’t look so bright, the JSR 121: Application Isolation API Specification looks abandoned since 2005… Perhaps for the JDK 7? or 8? I hate when I see this kind of project die from indifference… Perhaps now, with the Open JDK, someone will find the way to implement it.

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