Java Community Process gives thumbs up to J2EE 1.4

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

The JCP, which is 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 Web services standards from the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) and the Java platform, Sun said in a statement.

Also included in the specification is improved deployment and management capabilities to help developers accelerate time to market for their Web services applications, Sun said. [Please see Sun readies J2EE 1.4, app server.]

The company also announced that under the newly designed open source license 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 license terms which 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 both 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 licenses, 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, a process 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.

Bickel 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.

JBoss said it isn’t feeling pressure to complete the SDK, but it is a priority.

“We are trying to make open source safe for users and so what we’ve been trying to do is come out with a bunch of different things that address users issues,” he said. “We are not getting recognition…and enterprise level credibility.”

It’s been a busy week for JBoss. On Monday the company announced an indemnification program in an effort to protect its customers against legal action with respect to intellectual property rights. [Please see JBoss offers indemnification to its support customers.]

In a statement, Sun said the J2EE specification is projected to be available on Nov. 24, 2003. The J2EE 1.4 technology SDK that includes a J2EE 1.4-certified version of a fully-deployable application server from Sun is expected to be available on the same date.

The new SDK includes documentation and tools for developers to learn J2EE and get started with the J2EE 1.4 specification. It is available as a free download on the Solaris operating environment and Windows platforms at Sun’s developer Web site at