The second coming of Apple's WebObjects

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Apple Computer on Thursday disclosed plans to open parts of its WebObjects Java application server to the developer community, ending more than a year of speculation on the subject.



In an email to a public WebObjects mailing list, Apple's Daryl Lee revealed for the first time that the company has formed a new strategy aimed at evolving WebObjects into best server-side runtime environment possible.



Due to Apple's decision to deprecate its Cocoa Java bridge with the release of Xcode 2.4, Lee said several WebObjects developer applications, including WebObjects Builder, WOALauncher, and EOModeler, are also being deprecated. However, he assured WebObjects developers in his email that deprecation does not mean that support is immediately ending for these tools.Â*



"Fully supported versions of these tools shipped in August with the new version of Xcode 2.4 and Apple will continue to support them well into the future," he wrote. "Any code built using these deprecated tools will continue to run on Leopard so your applications will not break."



Moving forward, Lee said Apple will be placing its engineering efforts firmly into the runtime engine of WebObjects, but will otherwise open and making public all standards and formats that WebObjects depends upon. Among the company's goals are improving performance, manageability and standards compliance.



Lee also said that Apple's software engineers will be increasing their efforts to make sure WebObjects works well with ANT and the most popular IDEs, including Apple's Xcode and Eclipse -- a free, open source platform-independent software framework for delivering rich-client applications.



"We are making these changes with the clear goal of boosting WebObjects, allocating resources to improve the platform at a more rapid pace, and to better react to your needs," he told developers. "We look forward to delivering to you a vibrant, continually-improving WebObjects."



When NeXT Software released WebObjects in March 1996, it was billed as the world's first object-oriented Web application server. Despite being quickly adopted by large companies like Disney and Dell as part of their e-commerce strategy, however, WebObjects began to languish after Apple acquired NeXT the following year.



Today, Apple is itself the biggest client for WebObjects, relying on the technology to power its online Apple Store, .Mac internet services and the iTunes Music Store.



Rumors that Apple planned take WebObjects open source gained considerable attention last year when employees working the show floor of the company's developers conference were overheard discussing the prospect. During a private session at this year's developers conference, plans to unlock the majority WebObjects's code were openly discussed.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Meh...
  • Reply 2 of 20
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,762member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Celemourn


    Meh...





    Well, I like the concept of open source. Anything Apple does to further intrest among coders is alright with me...
  • Reply 3 of 20
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,874member
    This is confusing though. Once Apple depreciates something, it disappears from Apple's use, AND support.



    Despite what they seem to be saying, I can't see anyone being interested in it now that this happened, open source or not.
  • Reply 4 of 20
    zunxzunx Posts: 620member
    WebObjects had a retail price of $50,000 at some time when developed by NeXT some years ago. A value of maybe $500,000 these days.



    And it received several prizes at best web tool.



    Amazing it is now FREE and even OPEN SOURCE!



    Go for it!
  • Reply 5 of 20
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,874member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx


    WebObjects had a retail price of $50,000 at some time when developed by NeXT some years ago. A value of maybe $500,000 these days.



    And it received several prizes at best web tool.



    Amazing it is now FREE and even OPEN SOURCE!



    Go for it!



    They dropped the prices down to a few hundred some time ago.



    Apple doesn't perceive any value in it anymore.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zunx


    WebObjects had a retail price of $50,000 at some time when developed by NeXT some years ago. A value of maybe $500,000 these days.



    Wow, inflation is much worse than I thought - 10x in the last 10 years!



    $50,000 in 1996 dollars is more like $62,000 today ... plus, software ordinarily drops in price.



    But, value is all perception - it's what it means to you. Enough philosphy - it's a great package that's been opened up to the community; you can't argue with that.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross


    ....



    Apple doesn't perceive any value in it anymore.



    How you figure that? The proof of its value is that Apple uses WebOjects to run its own business.
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me


    How you figure that? The proof of its value is that Apple uses WebOjects to run its own business.



    But its value is diminished by the fact that it is (now maybe was) proprietary - while it supported EJB is was a second class citizen and when companies want to avoid vendor lock-in they will avoid it in favor of fully standards based tools like WebSphere, WebLogic. JBoss etc.



    That they are opening it up is good news, will be interested to see just how open it becomes - full opensource would be great. It is a spectacular tool - I originally used it to develop a site for Toyota back in 1995/96 - and yes, we paid $50K for the deployment license. It was worth it at the time
  • Reply 9 of 20
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,299member
    This will do much to leverage Apple in the Enterprise. Tools like Cocoon 2, Hibernate, Struts, etc., now will be able to easily integrate into WOF, not to mention Maven.
  • Reply 10 of 20
    I wish Apple would spearhead some open source projects based on WebObjects.

    Just about every project is currently based on PHP-MySQL-Apache.



    Instead of shipping OS X Server with a Java based blogging tool, why not make a WebObjects based one?



    Some WebObjects based tools I would like to see ship out-of-the-box with Leopard Server

    - Content Management System (like Joomla or Drupal)

    - Wiki

    - Blogging

    - WebMail (like .Mac mail)

    - WebCalendar



    I think this would get people thinking about using WebObjects again.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,874member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me


    How you figure that? The proof of its value is that Apple uses WebOjects to run its own business.



    By the fact that they continually droped the proce, despite the non adoption over the past few years, and now it will be free. Apple usually dropps the price to spur a larger user base. But it didn't work.



    Therefore it has no value to them. The fact that they will be using it for who knows how long, doesn't matter.



    By depreciating it, they are telling developers that it will be phased out. Apple has done this with all of their old tech that they no longer need. Not usually open sourcing it, but depreciating it. Just like they will be doing with quicktime, etc.
  • Reply 12 of 20
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross


    ....



    By depreciating it, they are telling developers that it will be phased out. Apple has done this with all of their old tech that they no longer need. Not usually open sourcing it, but depreciating it. Just like they will be doing with quicktime, etc.



    It is my understanding that Apple is deprecating a method in WebObjects, not WebObjects itself. As for the comment about QuickTime, it revealed more about your complete and total lack of understanding of the technology than any of Apple's actions.
  • Reply 13 of 20
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,874member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me


    It is my understanding that Apple is deprecating a method in WebObjects, not WebObjects itself. As for the comment about QuickTime, it revealed more about your complete and total lack of understanding of the technology than any of Apple's actions.



    Sorry, what I meant to type was QuickDRAW.
  • Reply 14 of 20
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    They are depricating the builder aspects given that free IDEs are pretty full featured. The runtime core of WebObjects will be their core focus moving forward...presumably to stay competitive with other application stacks.



    Vinea
  • Reply 15 of 20
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross


    Sorry, what I meant to type was QuickDRAW.



    *Whew!* My total faith in you flickered for a moment.

  • Reply 16 of 20
    My hope is that Apple is letting WebObjects ride off into the sunset to be replaced by additions to Cocoa. WebObjects was cool, but porting it to Java never paid off the way Apple had hoped. It appears that Apple was using Java as a fall back plan on Objective-C. However with the end of Cocoa Java, and now WebObjects being put out to pasture, it seems Apple is firmly commited to Objective-C as its application development language. Also, Objective-C 2.0 shows that Apple is addressing some of the cruft in Obj-C to bring it up to parity (if not surpass) languages like Java.



    As far as additions to Cocoa to support web applications, there are clues that this is where it is headed. Parts of EOModeler have been rolled into the data modeler for CoreData inside Xcode. This makes me think that support for databases beyond SQLite will be part of an update to CoreData. In addition I think the free version of WebObjects added "Cocoa Enterprise Obbjects Application" to the list of available projects in Xcode. Currently this a Cocoa java application, but as mentioned previously with Apple moving away from Cocoa Java, this may just be the start to Enterprise Objects in Objective-C Cocoa applications.



    I may be wrong on all this, but it sure is something I would like to see. Being able to use the great Cocoa Foundation framework along with the return of EOs would sure be cool. Add in support for something like Cocoa Bindings via Ajax, and that would be a killer web application platform.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    amoryaamorya Posts: 1,103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. Me


    It is my understanding that Apple is deprecating a method in WebObjects, not WebObjects itself. As for the comment about QuickTime, it revealed more about your complete and total lack of understanding of the technology than any of Apple's actions.



    They're deprecating a set of GUI apps for creating some of the WebObjects files (such as the data models).



    There are other tools that do that. Apparently inside Apple, many teams that use WO are using Eclipse anyway, rather than the Apple tools.



    Personally I would have preferred new tools, but think of it this way: the other server technologies don't usually come with GUI tools to do all this stuff anyhow. Apple aren't finished with WO, just their particular tools for editing a few of the files.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross


    Sorry, what I meant to type was QuickDRAW.



    Actually, the Quicktime C API is being deprecated -- you were more right than you thought



    It's being replaced with QTKit (objective-C) instead. The reason being that Quicktime API is not 64 bit clean, and will never be.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr Beardsley


    My hope is that Apple is letting WebObjects ride off into the sunset to be replaced by additions to Cocoa. WebObjects was cool, but porting it to Java never paid off the way Apple had hoped. It appears that Apple was using Java as a fall back plan on Objective-C. However with the end of Cocoa Java, and now WebObjects being put out to pasture, it seems Apple is firmly commited to Objective-C as its application development language. Also, Objective-C 2.0 shows that Apple is addressing some of the cruft in Obj-C to bring it up to parity (if not surpass) languages like Java.



    The motivation for using Java was to make things less tied to Apple-only tech -- for better or worse, no-one in the enterprise market uses objective-C!



    I personally would love an obj-C framework that does something similar to WO. I'm contemplating writing one (called Core Web, naturally!) that uses Core Data, and is embeddable in any application to give it web serving capabilities.



    Quote:

    As far as additions to Cocoa to support web applications, there are clues that this is where it is headed. Parts of EOModeler have been rolled into the data modeler for CoreData inside Xcode.



    'Fraid they've deprecated those parts too!



    Quote:

    This makes me think that support for databases beyond SQLite will be part of an update to CoreData.



    I would hazard an educated guess of "yes, but not particularly soon".



    Quote:

    In addition I think the free version of WebObjects added "Cocoa Enterprise Obbjects Application" to the list of available projects in Xcode.



    I think this is deprecated too, I'm afraid, although I'm not certain.



    Quote:

    I may be wrong on all this, but it sure is something I would like to see.



    I would love to see this. However, I do not think you are correct. It seems to me that cocoa's data capabilities are being developed separately from WO, and while they may overlap they are sharing no tech.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Quote:

    The motivation for using Java was to make things less tied to Apple-only tech -- for better or worse, no-one in the enterprise market uses objective-C!



    I think Apple tried to compete in the Java Enterprise, but I don't think they ever made much headway. I would guess that the vast majority of people who deployed WOAs deployed them on Apple servers. If that is the case Apple might as well use their best tech. Part of the appeal of .Net is how you can use one language and framework to write desktop and web apps.



    Quote:

    I personally would love an obj-C framework that does something similar to WO. I'm contemplating writing one (called Core Web, naturally!) that uses Core Data, and is embeddable in any application to give it web serving capabilities.



    I'd just love to have some way of accessin databases from within Cocoa. EOs was too cool, and I hope they have somthing similar for Cocoa coming out soon.



    Quote:

    'Fraid they've deprecated those parts too! I would hazard an educated guess of "yes, but not particularly soon".



    I think this is deprecated too, I'm afraid, although I'm not certain.



    I would love to see this. However, I do not think you are correct. It seems to me that cocoa's data capabilities are being developed separately from WO, and while they may overlap they are sharing no tech.



    I agree that it doesn't appear that they are replicating WebObjects in its entirety back to Objective-C, but they may be making additions to Cocoa that would make WebObjects redundant. Apple seems to be on a very steady road of adding features and slowly growing functionality. We have CoreData and the modeler, how hard would it be to make it use an external database instead of SQLite? That right there is 1/3 of the WebObjects magic.



    Again this all may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I hope it is where apple goes.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Amorya


    Actually, the Quicktime C API is being deprecated -- you were more right than you thought



    It's being replaced with QTKit (objective-C) instead. The reason being that Quicktime API is not 64 bit clean, and will never be.



    Er, as I understand it, QTKit is on top of QT.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    amoryaamorya Posts: 1,103member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Chucker


    Er, as I understand it, QTKit is on top of QT.



    I'm skirting very close to NDA here, but that is not how I understand it... that is, it's not calling the C Quicktime API but interacting with the Quicktime internals in another way.
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