Liberty and Eclipse: A great Java EE development environment

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WebSphere Liberty is the next generation application server, a newer architecture than traditional WAS. To develop Java EE applications to deploy to Liberty, you’re going to need a Liberty development environment.

In this excerpt from “Java EE, the next inception: Install a local Java EE development environment for WebSphere Liberty,” we’ll explore how Liberty and Eclipse make for a great local development environment for developing Java EE applications (even if they’ll be deployed to a production application server other than Liberty). Next, we’ll explain how to install the development environment. Then we’ll discuss common development tasks and how to perform them in this environment:

  • Creating a Liberty server using Eclipse
  • Using Eclipse to download an install a Liberty asset
  • Using Eclipse to enable a Liberty feature
  • Using Eclipse to package a Liberty server and application

After this series, we’ll explore another set of topics: Developing and deploying Java EE applications to Bluemix.

To start at the beginning of this series, see WebSphere Liberty: Developing Java EE applications for the cloud.

Why install a Liberty development environment?

There are two main reasons why you might want a local Java EE development environment that uses Liberty as its application server:

  • Liberty servers are lightweight, easy to install, and easy to manage.
  • Increasingly, production runtimes are based on Liberty.

Liberty servers make great local Java EE test servers. The servers are very compact, so several can easily run on a laptop with other applications. Local servers that you control make testing easier. Meanwhile, Liberty servers are easy to install and configure, and can be updated without having to restart the server. Application deployment is as easy as dropping an archive into a directory or deploying from within Eclipse. As Tom Alcott explains, one of the historical main uses for Liberty has been to create desktop development environments, which are used to develop Java EE applications that are then deployed to traditional WAS for formal testing and production.

Now, production is moving to Liberty as well. Liberty is increasingly being used as the production runtime environment for enterprise applications because of its greater resource efficiency, improved administration, and massive scalability. For Docker, IBM’s Liberty images produce containers that run the application server and yet are still lightweight. For cloud applications, Bluemix’s Liberty for Java instant runtime and IBM Liberty Image are (as their names imply) based on Liberty. To avoid mismatches between development and production, it’s helpful to create a development environment that’s highly similar to production. Therefore, to develop an application to be deployed to a Liberty runtime in production, it’s helpful to use Liberty as the development environment as well. Using Liberty everywhere means that your applications can be deployed everywhere and run the same everywhere.

—Bobby Woolf (@bobby_woolf)

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