Serving Up J2EE Compliance With JRun
If competitiveness is the name of the game for application servers, then Macromedia's JRun 3.1 is definitely a player. JRun is priced lower than most similar J2EE-compliant servers but provides excellent performance and a boatload of features for the money.
It was clear to us from the start that Macromedia inherited from Allaire considerable experience with Web page development (e.g., its Cold Fusion product for HTML) from the way Java Server Pages (JSP) are accommodated in the JRun server. JSPs can be problematic, and few application servers handle them as well as JRun.
JRun has a relatively light footprint, requiring a minimum of 32 MB RAM and 20 MB of disk. This is appreciated by anyone planning a large number of servers. The performance of JRun applications can be impressive even when using JSP, although getting better levels of performance means paying careful attention to the design of the Java code embedded in the HTML.
Nothing is new about this requirement, but with features such as the expanded tag library, JRun makes the hand off (and trade-offs) between the pages, application server, and Web server less difficult to design and implement. There's a certain simplicity (if that's the right word for any multitier environment) designed into JRun that will be appreciated. This, and its relatively light requirements, help separate JRun from its competition.
While JRun should get the most attention for its JSP capabilities, it is also quite capable of handling Java Servlets and EJBs -- albeit with somewhat fewer features than in environments like those from Borland and IBM. Development suites from these companies provide more elaborate debugging and programming support.
Not surprisingly, JRun has been fully integrated within the Macromedia line, which makes available the services of JRun 3 Ultra Dev 4 Studio (DreamWeaver and JRun Studio) or JRun Studio for development environments. Control of the server is the job of the JRun Management Console (JMC), a browser-based application for monitoring and tuning. It compares favorably to similar control components on application servers, such as those from BEA, IBM, and iPlanet.
Like many server and development products, JRun comes in several editions (Professional, Advanced, and Enterprise). There are considerable differences in the level of support for Java among the three versions, especially Enterprise JavaBeans 1.1, Java Messaging Service, and Java Transaction API, that really flesh out the full Java feature set in ways few other products match.
As of this review, there is no denying that application servers are going through an intense (and tense) competition to survive to the next round of Internet development, AKA the post-.dot-com phase. Because of its performance and well-designed Java features, we hope JRun will be among those left standing.
Pros: 7 Offers good value-performance, features, and ease of use at a fair price
Cons: 7 Custom tags and the tag library distinguish JRun, but could do more to help less-experienced programmers with their use and development
New in v4:
Certified J2EE 1.3 compatibility;
built-in support for Web services;
hot deployment and hot modification functionality;
EJB 2.0 support that includes local interfaces, message-driven beans, and containers; Managed Persistence (CMP 2.0);
JINI-based enterprise-class clustering;
JMX service-based architecture;
EJB development and deployment tool;
Flash Remoting capabilities;
native connectivity to Macromedia Flash;
JRun management console;
Version Reviewed: 3.1
Reviewed by: Nelson King
Last Updated: 10/3/01
Date of Original Review: 10/3/01