Ever since I have been involved with JBoss I remember people asking for a better management console for the JBoss Application Server. And it is it true that this request has been mostly ignored; well, until now.
For production deployments JBoss offered JBoss Operations Network, a full systems management solution able to monitor/provision/diagnose clusters of JBoss Application servers and more (web servers, databases, etc.).
For development, experienced developers had no problem fiddling with deployment descriptors and command line tools, and for the most part they've loved to have full control of every single aspects of the application server or picking into server internals through the generic jmx/web consoles.
It was the middle ground coverage that was missing: developers and admins with little knowledge of the server who wanted a simplified GUI with a wizard-based approach to the most common administrative tasks: deployment, configuration and monitoring of datasources, message queues, user applications, etc.
And as weird as it may sound, although JBoss 2/3/4.x was built on top of a management technology (JMX), this did not make the writing of management tools any easier. It's one thing to connect a subsystem to a management bus and use that as a kernel, and another thing to have detailed knowledge (i.e. metadata) about the management information and operations the subsystem exposes.
It's like you can access almost everything, but not everything is meant to be managed. E.g. a JMX attribute could be used for injecting one service into another and a JMX operation be part of an internal component-to-component API. And this could change from one release to another.
So writing and maintaining a decent console on top of this moving target would have been really difficult. Not to mention that the majority of JBoss core-developers would prefer to code a new transaction manager rather than touch anything GUI related. :-)
But this is about to change.
JBoss AS 5 built on top of the JBoss Microcontainer introduced the Profile service to solve exactly the problem described above. The Profile service is essentially a configuration and management API that we plan to keep stable and JBoss AS 5.1.0.CR1 is the first release to bundle Embedded Jopr, the new Seam-based management console that exercises the new API.
Seeing is believing so for the truly impatient, download JBoss AS, unzip, run and point to http://localhost:8080/admin-console (hint: use admin/admin to log in). Try it out and tell us what you think.
Read Jason's announcment of the 5.1.0.CR1 release and enjoy the new JBoss AS.