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Twelve Things You Didn't Know About Jetty

From a bug tracker to a Java open source project

In the past couple of years, interest in Jetty has surged. Jetty is an open source Java-based web and application server and servlet container, but what else do you know about it? To commemorate the 12th anniversary of Jetty, here are 12 things that might surprise you:

1. Jetty was originally written as an issue tracker application.
1995 - America was in a media frenzy over the O.J. Simpson murder trial; Microsoft had released Windows 95; and at Mort Bay Consulting Limited in Australia, Greg Wilkins created what was possibly the first Java web application, an issue tracking system served over HTTP from a Java server. It soon became apparent that there was a lot more interest in the HTTP server within the issue tracking application than in the application itself. By 1996, the HTTP server was spun out as an early form of Jetty.

2. Jetty was originally named MBServler.
Named for Mort Bay, an area of Sydney, the first iteration of Jetty was called Mort Bay SERVLet servER, or MBServler for short. The leading figures behind Jetty, Greg Wilkins and Jan Bartel, were not entirely happy with this. "We realized the name sucked, so we changed it to Jetty pretty quickly," says Wilkins. The Mort Bay logo is an image of Sydney Harbor, which includes a small jetty. As the word jetty started with a J, it was picked as the new name for the Java web server.

3. Jetty has frequently broken tests that try to benchmark it.
Jetty breaks most benchmarking tools as it is designed to scale to many thousands of simultaneous requests and connections. Most HTTP benchmarking tools do not support the asynchronous features needed to scale to such levels and thus bottle neck at a few hundred or a thousand connections. Jetty now includes an asynchronous HTTP client that was written initially just to be able to test tens of thousands of simultaneous requests and connections.

4. More people are using Jetty than you might think.
Jetty is used by a huge number of brands and applications. In fact, many people use Jetty and don't even realize it. Eclipse, BEA WebLogic Event Server, Apache Geronimo, Zimbra, IBM Tivoli Netview, Sybase EAServer, IGN.com, and Chess.com all use Jetty behind the scenes. In fact, the first Wi-Fi access provided at Starbucks was handled by a proxy based on Jetty. Apache Maven also works great with Jetty. A full list can be found here.

5. Hundreds of thousands of domains are active on Jetty.
Netcraft is a company that provides research and analysis on numerous aspects of the Internet. Netcraft makes it possible to see how many instances of Jetty are directly linked to the Internet, as opposed to behind a firewall. According to the company, there are hundreds of thousands of domains active on Jetty - and this is very likely to be a conservative estimate.

6. Jetty was designed backwards.
One of the reasons that Jetty is so prevalent is that it was designed to be a good software component, and it happens to also be a software container. Jetty embeds so well that it is often completely hidden, while other Web servers are primarily software containers and not designed to be embedded within other applications. While they can be embedded in applications, the applications more often than not take on the shape of the webserver rather than vice versa.

7. Jetty proves that size matters.
Jetty's small size makes it perfect for providing web services to all applications - even those on handheld devices. Because of its small footprint, Jetty leaves more memory and cache free to be allocated to running the application rather than running the server.

8. Jetty is the first server for Google Android.
Jetty will be the first server available for Google's Android mobile platform in the form of i-Jetty. i-Jetty will allow users to turn their phone into a server, and broadcast and share videos and photos on their phones. Users will also have the ability to manage their phones from their computer desktop. Essentially, i-Jetty and Android will give mobile phone users much more control and flexibility over their devices.

9. Why is Jetty open source?
That Jetty is open source is no secret - it is, in fact, its calling card and the people behind it believe passionately that open source methods are the best way to produce quality software that is well targeted to users' needs. There is no better way for various people to collaborate, both in development and in discussion of requirements. It was the right decision, as the number of Jetty users and developers today shows.

10. Jetty is an important component in Eclipse.
Jetty handles the help system in the open source Eclipse software platform. Eclipse projects are hosted by the Eclipse Foundation, a non-profit organization whose members include IBM, Oracle, Intel and Nokia.

11. Jetty is a record breaker.
Earlier this year, Yahoo broke the record for the fastest sort of a terabyte of random data. The record was achieved by one of Yahoo's Apache Hadoop clusters, in which Jetty was a crucial component. The new record stands at 209 seconds, compared to the previous record of 297 seconds.

12. Jetty is supported by Webtide.
The Jetty community is based at www.mortbay.org. However, the founders of Mort Bay realized that a successful open source project needs commercial input and support, as a member of the community, to work with "the" community. So webtide.com was founded to provide commercial support and as a development provider for Jetty.

Jetty has evolved a great deal over the years, from a poorly named bug tracker, to the flexible software it is today. The community continues to thrive, and with up to 20 people developing it at any given moment, the future is not just secure for Jetty it's positively buoyant.

More Stories By Adam Lieber

Adam Lieber is the CEO of Webtide. He was a co-founder of Gluecode Software, one of the early open source software companies and delivered solutions to numerous industries and served as Gluecode's representative on OASIS. After Gluecode's acquisition by IBM, Adam ran worldwide sales for open source middleware for IBM. Adam received his A.B. in Economics concentration, with Computer Science from Princeton University.

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