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Open Source Alternatives to LiveCycle Data Services
LCDS is a great solution for Flex/Java enterprise projects, but it's not the only one

Clear Tookit on Ulitzer

Development of enterprise Flex/Java rich Internet applications benefits from using automated data integration solutions and productivity tools.

Currently Adobe offers LiveCycle Data Services ES2 (LCDS) and open source BlazeDS 3.

While LCDS is certainly a great piece of software for those who are looking to support thousands of concurrent users via the most efficient communication protocols, its high licensing cost makes LCDS unaffordable for the vast majority of the enterprise applications let alone small businesses and startups.

If you are looking for an alternative solution for integrating Flex and Java EE layers, consider using GraniteDS, WebOrb, and Clear Toolkit.

The first two products offer their own implementation of the AMF protocol, and Clear Toolkit uses the AMF libraries that come with BlazeDS . If you are looking for an open source implementation of the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP), the Red5 server (currently in version 0.7) may be your option.

The feature matrix below compares LCDS, BlazeDS, and open source Clear Toolkit. This feature matrix was created using the data from the LCDS/BlazeDS comparison chart published by Adobe .

The current version of Clear Toolkit is 3.2.1. The features that are currently not available but will be implemented in Clear Toolkit version 4 by the end of 2010 are marked as v4 in the chart below.

Disclaimer. I'm one of the creators of Clear Toolkit. But if the owners of GraniteDS, WebOrb, and Red5 would like to be listed here, please let me know, and I'll gladly update this feature matrix.

Feature Matrix: Adobe Live Cycle Data Services ES2, BlazeDS 3, Clear Toolkit 3+

Feature

BlazeDS 3

BlazeDS+Clear Toolkit

LCDS ES2

RPC services

 


 


 


Java remoting/AMF

X

X

X

AJAX to Java

X

X

X

WS/JSON proxy

X

X

X

Messaging

 


 


 


Servlet-based messaging (hundreds of clients per CPU)

X

X

X

Servlet-based NIO messaging (thousands of clients per CPU)

 


X*

 


Java NIO high-performance messaging (thousands of clients per CPU)

 


 


X

Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP)

 


 


X

Data throttling

 


v4

X

Reliable communications

 


v4

X

Data Management

 


 


 


Transaction (batch processing)

 


X

X

Data paging

 


v4

X

Lazy loading (on demand)

 


v4

X

Hierarchical data collections
X X

Conflict resolution and synchronization

 


X

X

SQL adapter

 


X

X

Hibernate adapter

 


v4

X

Fiber-aware assembler

 


v4**

X

Offline Web applications

 


 


X

Development and deployment

 


 


 


Spring integration support

X

v4

X

Adobe Flash® BuilderTM modeling plug-in

 


 


X

Enterprise support

 


X

X

RIA PDF generation

 


X***

X

WSRP portal integration

 


 


X

Load/stress testing tool

 


 


X

Source code available

X

X

 


Edge server

 


 


X

Enterprise support plans

 


X

X

Productivity Tools

 


 


 


Generator of CRUD application

 


X

X

Generator of ActionScript data transfer object based on their Java peers

 


X

X

Generator of ANT script based on the properties of Flash Builder project

 


X

 


Automated Data synchronization of AIR locale cache

 


X

X

Flash-based Web reporter

 


v4

 


Cost of production deployment




License type and cost

LGPL v3,

Free

MIT,

Free

Commercial, about $30K per CPU****


 


 


 


*   Farata Systems can develop an NIO-based BlazeDS solution on a per-customer basis under a separate consulting agreement. Read and watch performance tests of our high concurrency Jetty/NIO/BlazeDS solution at http://flex.sys-con.com/node/720304

** Currently, Farata Systems is working on a solution to introduce the model-driven development to Clear Toolkit.

*** LCDS offers advanced server-side PDF generation. Clear Toolkit components support PDF generation on the client (WYSIWYG), but does not support working with forms.

**** Adobe doesn't publish the cost of the LCDS ES2 license. The price listed here is based on the data shared by current users whose employers allegedly paid (read the comments to the following blog post of Adobe LCDS/BlazeDS Product Manager).

I'll be demoing Clear Toolkit in action at the Flash and The City conference in May in New York City. If you'll be in town on May 17, consider attending our hands-on master class on the modularization of Flex applications.

About Yakov Fain
Yakov Fain is a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay. He wrote a thousand blogs (http://yakovfain.com) and several books about software development. Yakov authored and co-authored such books as "Angular 2 Development with TypeScript", "Java 24-Hour Trainer", and "Enterprise Web Development". His Twitter tag is @yfain

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