Sun launches J2EE certification program

In an attempt to prevent the Java application market from fracturing, Sun Microsystems Inc. Monday announced a Java Verification Program for testing enterprise applications to ensure their compatibility with all application server software products that comply with the J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) standard.

The suite of tests and reference material allows independent software vendors (ISVs) and corporate software developers to make sure applications they design work with any J2EE application server from any vendor.

A number of vendors, including IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc., Oracle Corp. and Sun, have built application server software products that are based on the standard J2EE specification. However, some of those vendors have released versions of their software with special extensions to differentiate their offerings from the rest of the pack. As a result, an application designed specifically for BEA’s application server won’t necessarily be able to run on IBM’s WebSphere Application Server.

Only applications that don’t target any vendor-specific extensions, but rather target just the generic J2EE specifications, will pass the Java Verification Program, the company said.

“The ISV that put out J2EE applications can put out (a product) that people know will work on all the implementations of J2EE,” said David Harrah, a Java marketing manager at Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif. “You want to ensure that those applications are portable across all these different application servers.”

Sun and others have expressed concerns in the past that extensions being added to vendor offerings that don’t adhere to the J2EE specification could create a confusing market for customers.

“What we don’t want is somebody going out with an application that they say is J2EE-based, and ‘Boom!’ – it doesn’t run with the rest of the platform,” Harrah said.

The Java Verification Program, which will include a test kit called the Java Application Verification Kit for the Enterprise, is intended to prevent any confusion in the marketplace, Harrah said. Applications that adhere to the program can carry a “Java Verified” brand and logo. Enterprise developers who build applications that pass the verification tests will be able to participate in Sun-sponsored co-marketing opportunities, the company said.

Sun said it expects to release a similar test suite for applications designed to run on J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) platforms, a Java implementation designed for small computing devices such as cell phones. It has yet to set a date for that release, Harrah said.

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