Third-time lucky with EJB

30 12 2010

I learnt EJB 1, but never encountered any situation that justified actually using it.

I learnt EJB 2, but never encountered any situation that justified actually using it.

So despite knowing that EJB 3 was much better, and having a general picture of it, I’d been holding off from any detailed reading or study on EJB 3 until specifically needing it.

Well, now I have a development for which EJB 3 seems appropriate, so this time I’m finally using it for real!

In practice this really means JPA with a tiny bit of EJB on top, as “Entities” aren’t technically EJBs any more (to the extent that if an EJB jar consists of nothing but “entities” it’s considered invalid due to not containing any EJBs).

On the whole I’ve been quite impressed by EJB 3 and JPA. The basic programming is, as advertised, much cleaner and simpler than before, and it lives up to its reputation of being much easier to get started with and needing far less “boilerplate” code.

Inevitably it’s taken a fair amount of work to arrive at suitable design choices, naming and coding conventions, build script enhancements, test facilities etc, and in general to address all the myriad of assorted issues and choices that crop up whenever one adopts any additional technology. And, of course, once you get into anything non-trivial you’re dragged into the usual pile of quirks and work-arounds and implementation-specific bugs. You only need to take a quick look though the JPA FAQ and read some of the referenced discussions to get a feel for how tricky and arbitrary some of this can be.

But overall, incorporating EJB 3 and JPA into a couple of new projects has all been relativately straightforward, and certainly no worse than is par for the course these days.

I still wish I could somehow claw back the time I’d previously spent learning EJB 1 and 2 (though not nearly as much as the time I spent learning Microsoft COM technologies!). But what’s done is done, and so far I’m very pleased with how easy and effective EJB 3 and JPA now appear to be.

If you’re still holding back from EJB and JPA because of bad experiences with previous versions, I can add my voice to the chorus of people saying it’s worth a fresh look.

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