Sun releases test version of tools for Web services

Sun Microsystems Inc. has made available a test version of another toolkit designed to allow Java developers to build applications that make use of Web services technology.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company released through its early developer program the Java Web Services Pack, a set of development tools and instructions for building applications based on standards such as XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML is a key ingredient of Web services, which allows applications of different types and from different vendors to communicate with each other automatically over the Internet.

The new tools are intended to allow developers to begin building Web services that will run on server software that conforms to Sun’s J2EE (Java2 Enterprise Edition) standard. In addition to Sun’s iPlanet servers, there are J2EE server products from companies such as BEA Systems Inc. and IBM Corp.

The Web Services Pack brings together previously released tools that allow Java developers to write applications using XML (Extensible Markup Language). Called the Java XML Pack, the tools include APIs (application programming interfaces) for writing applications that could be accessed over the Internet as services, and run across all kinds of computers, ranging from large servers to handheld devices.

Included in the pack are APIs for sending XML messages, processing XML data and registering XML Web services with various directories, according to Peter Kacandes, senior product manger for Java and XML technologies at Sun.

Two of the messaging APIs allow XML data to be sent over the Internet as an attached file or as an RPC (remote procedural call), a common protocol that allows an application to request a service from a program located elsewhere in a network, regardless of what operating system that program is running on.

The Web Services Pack also includes APIs needed to register Web services built in Java with online registries. It supports both the UDDI (Universal Description and Discovery) registry, commonly compared to an online Yellow Pages, as well as the ebXML (electronic business XML) registry.

The Web Services Pack is expected to be released in its final version in June.

Sun in January released early to developers another set of tools with support for building Web services for the Solaris operating system. Forte Developer Version 7 was made available as a free download from the company’s early access Web site.

Other makers of server software based on J2EE have also announced plans to release toolkits that include support for XML and Web services directories such as UDDI. BEA, which leads the market for J2EE application servers, according to various market research firms, is working on a set of developer tools code-named Cajun, aimed at building Web services based on XML.

Sun’s Web Services Pack was designed to be included in tool kits from these various J2EE vendors, Kacandes said.

Sun released the test version just weeks before Microsoft Corp. plans to release the final version of its developer tools for building Web services for Windows, called Visual Studio .Net. The development suite will be made widely available on Feb. 13, following an address in San Francisco by Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates.

Sun, in Palo Alto, Calif., can be reached at