Apache Camel gets a GUI

FuseSource has released a new developer environment for Apache's open-source messaging software

Potentially making a lightweight enterprise integration tool even easier to use, FuseSource has released a GUI for the Apache Camel messaging framework.

With the graphical user interface "you can create, edit and test out your routes" without writing the code by hand, said Debbie Moynihan, FuseSource vice president of marketing.

The Apache Foundation's Camel is an open-source messaging framework, one that can be used to transmit data, or messages, among different applications, or among different parts of a single application.

Although this sort of messaging is typically the business of ESBs (Enterprise Service Buses), Camel provides a lightweight alternative for organizations that don't want to run a full-scale ESB, Moynihan said.

Camel is an implementation of Enterprise Integration Patterns (EIPs), a set of descriptions developed by Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf for summarizing the basic operations needed to integrate systems. A pattern typically describes an atomic operation like transferring a file or filtering messages.

FuseSource's GUI, an Eclipse plug-in, can speed a lot of the development work needed to set up workflows, or routes, Moynihan said. This developer environment provides the interface for FuseSource's Camel implementation, part of FuseSource's commercial Fuse Mediation Router set of Apache messaging tools.

Today, most Camel developers compose their Camel workflows within Java itself, using a Domain Specific Language (DSL) that describes the patterns, Moynihan explained. The GUI would allow them to drag and drop patterns onto a palette and tie together different patterns into a route, without the need for remembering the semantics of the DSL.

The software includes all of the basic patterns described by Hohpe and Woolf. It can also validate that the links between nodes are possible to execute.The software can be linked into a variety of containers, such as Java application servers, the Java Spring framework, standalone JVMs (Java Virtual Machines) and ESBs such as Apache ServiceMix.

Over the past few years, enterprises have become increasingly interested in open-source messaging technologies such as Camel as an alternative to larger, more expensive enterprise integration suites from companies such as IBM and Oracle, noted Jay Lyman, a senior analyst covering enterprise software for The 451 Group. The open-source offerings are easy to license, test and deploy in novel environments such as cloud computing, he added.

Enterprise integration software provider Progress Software spun out FuseSource as a wholly owned subsidiary in October 2010, in order to focus on this emerging open-source-based market.

Apache Camel co-founder James Strachan developed the GUI, which was first introduced in beta form in January, and was tested by about 500 users.

Users can download a trial version of the plug-in, which includes some of the functionality of the fully paid version found on the subscription-based Fuse Mediation Router.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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