Oracle touts J2EE frameworks

Oracle Corp. will stress frameworks and the need to make Java programming accessible to more developers in a release of its JDeveloper development environment that the company will focus on in June.

The product will add features such as a visual page editor for WYSIWYG, graphical design of Web pages, as well as the ability to graphically build controllers, said Ted Farrell, architect and director of strategy in the Oracle application development tools division. Controllers better enable the reuse of software, he said.

Design time and runtime features are also planned, said Farrell, who gave a presentation on J2EE frameworks and JDeveloper at the Software Development Conference & Expo West 2003 event held in Santa Clara, Calif., earlier this month.

Farrell stressed that Java and J2EE have broad industry support, but only about 20 per cent of an estimated eight million professional developers can program in it. Java frameworks will extend J2EE to more developers, Farrell said.

“J2EE is the first technology in the history of software that has every major vendor in the market except for one [supporting it],” Farrell said, referring to Microsoft Corp. as the lone holdout.

Java IDEs (integrated development environment) have been geared toward existing Java developers, said Farrell. “If you want to program with Java, you have to know about the technology. That level of abstraction hasn’t been achieved yet with the current IDEs,” Farrell said.

He conceded that Java technology is “pretty complicated compared to things in the past.” Compounding this is the fact that systems themselves have become distributed and have to deal with complicated data. But to build Web applications, developers need a common ground, he said.

“What we need to do is expand the developer base in J2EE,” Farrell said. “We need to make Java easier for developers.”

This is done by adding an abstraction layer that lets developers focus more on business logic and less on XML, protocols, and other low-level functions. He proposed utilizing Java frameworks to enable greater ease of development. The framework consists of a runtime piece and a design time on top of it to provide for higher level productivity, Farrell said.

“Developer productivity is really important and it’s very hard as a vendor to innovate, which is what we’re doing, while keeping with the standard,” said Farrell.

Frameworks provide benefits such as enabling use of legacy systems wrapped in a Web service and use of business rules, Farrell said.