Apache CXF is an open services framework. It is more than just a Web Services stack. Its simple, powerful, and promising. Today, the CXF project graduated from incubation as a top-level Apache project. It has made several stable releases since its incubation. I know projects which still prefer to use first generation Axis due to its simplicity. XFire is also popular like Axis, but made a significant difference in providing highly performing XML based web services. The power and simplicity of XFire and feature rich Celtix (branded as ESB) merged to form Apache CeltixXFire (CXF).
IMO, CXF wins over Axis2 programming model. CXF documentation is an area for improvement. It has a lot of powerful undocumented features. The primary source of getting these information is cxf-user mailing list. The people are amazingly helpful. It features most of its core developers offering their timely help to the user community.
I developed a simple loan processing application based on JPA and CXF using the NetBeans 6.1. This is a simple standalone Java application, but still demonstrates the power of persistence and integration technologies in combination with a powerful IDE which provides a platform for developing quality software. I specifically used NetBeans for this illustration because its very productive and intuitive for developer of any class. MySQL support in NetBeans 6.1 has improved phenomenally. You can manage the MySQL database from within NetBeans IDE. This is yet another useful integration for RAD apart from many of its other key offerings which I am not going to discuss in this post.
You can access this step-by-step tutorial in the NetBeans community website.
Rock with NetBeans 6.1 today and contribute to the community.
(4/30/08 Update): Changed the new Apache CXF project URL. Also, updated the tutorial to use Apache CXF 2.1 release and NetBeans 6.1 final release and used soapUI plugin for testing secure web services. Thanks to Vidhya for suggesting soapUI tool. Nice tooling around web services testing.