The release of OpenEJB 3.0 beta 1 at the end of September showed an mild but noticeable increase in user traffic which has continued since. Several usability improvements and related new features have been added, particularly around a returning user from years ago Alex St. Croix. Alex has already written some blog entries, created a couple video tutorials, and has a downloadable PDF of using OpenEJB embedded in Tomcat which is a dozen pages and growing. This is all very good for OpenEJB and we are very excited to see user activity of this nature again.
Web Services support has been added to OpenEJB in both standalone and Tomcat embedded modes, and significant work as been contributed to the CXF project as a result to add new features required by OpenEJB but not already present, such as rpc/encoded web services.
The ability to embed OpenEJB into Tomcat has been re-expanded from temporarily just supporting Tomcat 6.0 to now version 5.5 as well including annotation processing support which is usually a v6.0.x and higher feature. Support for older versions was lost when the integration was reworked and improved over the OpenEJB 1.0 approach, however post OpenEJB 3.0 beta 1 release, requests from users of older Tomcat versions began coming in showing that the ability to support pre Tomcat 6 users is still very important.
The documentation has been reorganized significantly. A new confluence space as been created dedicated entirely to the OpenEJB 3.0.x codebase and reintegrated back into the main website. Several new examples have been created as well. A major issue with the documentation was that most of the new documents weren't linked into the main site, were just loose pages, and had no "center" to bind them all together. The creation of dedicated 3.0.x space with it's own index and new left navigation section has dramatically improved this.
Jonathan Gallimore, a newer contributor, recently contributed another large patch to the Eclipse plugin he's been working on that takes an EJB 2.x application and adds the annotations to the source code required to turn it into an EJB 3.0 application, removing the equivalent xml as it goes. Jonathan has done great work, but we could be doing better as he is largely working alone and isn't getting the benefit of working closely with existing committers. It's always difficult to pull people in when there isn't a strong intersection with existing code/people.
Release work on OpenEJB 3.0 beta 2 has begun. There was a perpetual state of "going to release" through late November and all December, however all the open issues have been cleared and the general mood is "it's over-ready." We've branched and have begun helping other projects to release some of the things we have dependencies on such as the Geronimo Transaction Manager/Connector and the XBean libraries. All is going well and we should see OpenEJB 3.0 beta 2 put up for vote this month.
On a general note, OpenEJB celebrated it's eighth year of existence in December. As a personal comment from someone who's been on the project the entire time, I [David Blevins] have never seen the project in such good shape. A major challenge going forward will be releasing the 3.0 final and getting OpenEJB back on people's radar.