Developers approve latest version of J2EE

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems Inc. recently announced that the Java Community Process (JCP) has approved the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) version 1.4 specification.

The JCP, a community of developers that contributes to the design of the J2EE 1.4 standard, created the specification to enable the use of Web services in Java applications. It fuses the standards derived by the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) and the Java platform, Sun said in a statement. Also included in the specification are improved deployment and management capabilities to help developers accelerate time to market for their Web services applications, Sun said.

The company also announced that under the newly designed open source licence terms, JBoss Group LLC – an Atlanta-based company that sponsors the development of the open source JBoss J2EE application server – and the Apache Software Foundation have licensed the certification and the Technology Compatibility Kits (TCK) from Sun.

Bob Bickel, vice-president of corporate development and strategy at JBoss in Moores Town, N.J., said JBoss is trying to offer “professional open source” with its application server, and it needed to have certification from Sun in order to make some of those advances.

“Our customers have moved from being just developers into production IT organizations. And so now IT managers are deploying JBoss and they kind of want the safety, if you will, of having something endorsed by Sun,” Bickel said. The agreement brings some closure to an ongoing dispute between Sun and JBoss about the licensing fee that accompanies the certification process. Open source companies such as Apache do not have to pay the fee under new licence terms that are, according to Sun, friendly to non-profit and open source companies. The fees are not disclosed to the public but are said to be about “six figures.”

Part of the dispute between Sun and JBoss was whether or not Sun’s J2EE certification process is ultimately compatible with open source software. In the end, JBoss was granted access to the licences, but it is paying the full fee. “It’s a lot of money to us,” Bickel said. In order to gather enough financial backing and the system resources needed to complete the certification process, something that usually takes anywhere from six to nine months, Bickel said JBoss got the wheels running on its partner program. It now has companies such as Borland Software Corp., IONA and Sonic Software.

“It takes a lot of research to actually get the testing done…in terms of systems resources and people resources,” he said. JBoss agreed to pay the licensing fees in June of this year, but it has been waiting for the past few months to get the contracts signed. Sun could not be reached for comment.

“I think Sun’s delay was really that they wanted to have J2EE 1.4 to come out the door and this is the first time they have ever done open source so they had some license changes that they had to put in place to accommodate open source licensees,” Bickel explained

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