On the deck but still flapping: GlassFish soldiers on

Elliot Bentley

GlassFish development continues, with the WebSocket component getting an update this week. But is it swimming or sinking?

The ending of commercial GlassFish support came as a shock to the Java community last November, so much so that Oracle still appear to be dealing with the fallout.

Java EE blogger Markus Eisele was one of many commentators to write it off, declaring that “GlassFish Server as we know it today is deprecated from a full blown product to a toy product”. The public dismissal of the application server was so strong, Oracle evangelist Bruno Borges felt compelled to write a blog post insisting that “GlassFish Open Source Edition is not dead”.

As the new year begins, there does appear to be life in the old fish yet, with development continuing – albeit now strictly as a reference implementation for Java EE.

This week saw the release of a new version of Tyrus, used within GlassFish, which also serves as reference for the Java API for WebSocket. Support for the bi-directional, real-time WebSocket protocol was one of the headline features of Java EE 7.

Tyrus 1.4 includes WebSocket Extensions, a more advanced feature that can filter incoming and outgoing data transferred via the WebSocket connection; and a shared client container, which increases the number of simultaneous client connections possible. It’s promised to soon be integrated into the GlassFish tank.

Separately, Oracle staffer David Delabassee updated the GlassFish blog, emphasising that commercial support for GlassFish 3.x is set to continue “for years to come”. Though not new, Delabassee’s post is likely an attempt at damage control following last year’s controversy.

Those who are already invested in GlassFish, and don’t intend to change their current setup for some time, may be relieved to know that Oracle’s ‘Extended Support’ won’t expire until March 2019. ‘Sustaining Support’, which does not include patches or software updates, will continue “indefinitely”.

However, newer versions of GlassFish (from v4.0 onwards) will not be covered by these subscriptions. Users who want both modern features like WebSockets and commercial support will need to look elsewhere – and Oracle are probably hoping that users will pick WebLogic.

Photo by Dave Howes.

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