I have been interested in software agent technologies since in the early days of Windows 3.1 when I discovered Actor. Agents are automatous tools that engage in formal conversations to get commitments and, later, responses to those commitments. Message queues are very popular technologies because when you add work to a queue you know that at some point the work will be done. Agents are like very smart queues where the queue can make decisions about the commitment to do the work. Unfortunately, my experience is mostly that of an armchair practitioner.
A few weeks ago I discovered JADE and have since read the book Developing Multi-Agent Systems with JADE. I highly recommend the book [*]. It really looks like JADE is a good agent framework and implementation. I know, for example, that Raytheon is using it for at least one non-defense project and Raytheon has a very conservative software selection process. Now, I need to find a client that wants to use it too. Know anyone?
[*] I also highly recommend using your local library's inter-library loan service to read the book before buying it. Jessica Wilson, a librarian in the South Kingstown library system, seems to be able to get anything.