Many other changes are worth discussing. A large number of simplifications and generalisations can be found especially in the numerous maintenance releases. The transaction handling of the Java Transaction API (JTA) has been adapted and detached from the EJB specification, which has unified the use of ManagedBean transactions across the platform. New additions in the EJB area include local, asynchronous session beans and, in the EJB Lite profile, timer beans that don't persist in the database.The Embeddable EJB container now implements Java SE 7's AutoClosable interface. A similar multitude of minor improvements affect CDI: bug fixes, specification clarifications, and about three handfuls of new features such as the injection of the Servlet context or the provision of cross-application component lifecycle events (for example @Initialized, @Destroyed).
The profiles that were introduced with Java EE 6 continue to exist, but no new ones have been added. The document subset that has been adapted for web development tasks now includes three extra specifications: JAX-RS, WebSockets and JSON-P.
GlassFish 4.0 as a reference implementation
With the adoption of the specification, Oracle also launched the GlassFish reference implementation. The first EE-7-compliant application server has become available to the developer community very quickly. Unfortunately, Java EE 7 doesn't fulfil the modularisation dreams that developers have nurtured over the past few years. The main reason for this is Java's delayed custom Jigsaw module system. Nevertheless, Java EE remains the established and widely used platform in the enterprise world. With a two-digit number of certified servers, a wide user base has already been created in the market. Java EE 7 has taken more than three years, which will likely also be the time that is required before customers and vendors migrate to the latest version.
For developers, that's plenty of time to grasp the techniques and technologies that have also been simplified in many places. At the moment, code examples are still sparse, and interested developers must gather much information from the specification itself or from JavaDocs. The Java EE 7 tutorial has already been made available and is a good thing to start learning with. The Java EE Expert Group will probably soon start the next round. With Java EE 8 – currently scheduled for 2015 – the "cloud" topic should become a tangible reality.
Markus Eisele is the Principal IT Architect at msg systems in Munich and a member of the Java EE 7 Expert Group and of iJUG e.V. He is also an Oracle ACE Director.