ercatoJ product overview

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How it all works

ercatons are the result of the ercato project to create a server environment which does not just export web services but is actually fully programmable using web services. In this context, many shortcomings of web services have been addressed and a decent security model has been created, to start with.

Keep the J2EE model small and focused

In all traditional J2EE frameworks and J2EE itself, XML plays a helper role, as carrier of data from model to view, or from one application to another, or as a configuration language. In contrast, ercatoJ treats XML as what it is: a first class citizen. It is the first and only J2EE-based product which does so: XML documents contain and store all the business data plus as much business logic as is required.

But why is the ercato programming model that powerful? Because it exactly starts from the simple idea we mentioned above: treat every XML document as being an object (and call it an ercaton). Inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation, persistence, methods, appearance etc. may all be expressed at the declarative level of XML. This includes some properties of real-world objects which software objects usually do not posses. Additionally, the full procedural power of Java and J2EE is made available as well.

Did you ever wonder why you should care about the distinction between object and class when creating an UML business model? ercatons make this distinction obsolete and in many cases, an ercaton just is the perfect representation of a business object or process. On the other hand, an ercaton looks as much as a Java object to Java code as you want it. There is nothing to sacrifice.

Consider the following scenario: “In some application, customer data is expressed as an XML document with actually no Java involved. At the same time, a customer’s account is expressed as an entity bean delegating to an account class. Both, customer and account have been modelled as objects (ercaton and Java class).” We anticipate and fully support this situation. Of course, an SQL database will be involved, too. For maximum freedom, ercatoJ does not restrict ercatons to any XML schema (or XML at all...) and any Java class is able to interoperate. It is not very elegant but perfectly legal for some Java code to manipulate an ercaton at the XML-DOM level.

Every XML document is an object

ercatons represent business data and business logic at the XML level. This may have introduced problems at the levels of orthogonality and redundancy, change management, or consistency. Yes, and ercatoJ solves all of them.

It is impossible in this booklet to discuss the background of prototype-based languages or XML node-set algebra which are part of the scientific foundation of the ercato programming model. Rather, we just claim the following here: “Once an example of a business object or a description of a business process is written down (in XML, maybe using a text editor), the implementation of this object or process as part of a J2EE application is already complete or very close to completion”. You probably need to see to believe.


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