Sun touts open-source

In a move to help standardize mobile devices, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced a new Web service based on J2ME technology. This will help mobile devices easily access enterprise applications by unifying the architecture from the back-end server to the mobile device.

To help developers, Sun will package a wireless toolkit for developers, Java blueprints and application program interfaces based on a new Java Specification Request (JSR).

The company’s announcement, made recently at the seventh annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco, also includes the development of a small device Web service specification called JSR 172. It is in its early stages, but will eventually be integrated into developer’s tools such as Borland’s JBuilder and Sun’s Forte for Java. Applications built to these specifications would work on a variety of mobile devices without the need to rework the code, said Dan Hushon, world-wide director, pervasive Java consulting, Sun professional services.

Sun will provide more details on the application programming interfaces within the next three months and hopes the specification will be ready for approval by the summer 2003.

The announcement was one of many focused on Sun’s shift away from a world of computers connected to the Internet to what Rich Green, Sun’s vice-president of Java and XML software, called an “Internet of things,” where technology is embedded in almost anything, from packages and clothes to paint chips on aeroplanes.

Sun also answered a long-standing call from open-source software developers, saying Java fans will be able to submit some changes for the platform under open-source licences and receive financial support from Sun for their projects.

The changes are designed to address issues that have dogged open-source companies looking to certify their products as Java compatible through the Java Community Process that governs Java’s maturation. Companies have been wary of submitting open changes for Java because of licensing issues, confidentiality concerns and the costs associated with running compatibility tests, said Jason Hunter, vice president of the Apache Software Foundation.

“I believe we just made the Java developer community both tighter and broader with just one move,” said Sun CEO Scott McNealy.

One analyst said Sun’s move closer to the open-source community came after lengthy deliberation. “Sun has been experimenting with tuning the business model on Java for a long time,” said Jean Bozman, an analyst at IDC in Mountain View, California. “They have received feedback that it really needs to be more open source.”

However, Yancy Lind, president and chief executive officer of Lutris Technologies Inc., remains unimpressed with Sun’s new stance after fighting with the company in the past over open-source Java projects.

“This is far short of what the purist open-source community wants. They want a complete open-sourcing of Java in J2EE, and as far as I can tell, Sun has not done that.”


With millions of developers using Java to write applications, Sun has responded by shifting the focus of JavaOne to be even more developer focused.

“This year we are going to focus back on you, the developer,” said Pat Sueltz, executive vice-president of Sun’s software systems group. The conferences goal is to put technology and engineering back at the forefront with less focus on marketing, she added.

Nokia, not to be outdone, has created a service to help developers bring their applications to market using Web based tools to test the applications and Nokia’s global clout to help co-market the products. Potential buyers can visit the Nokia site and quickly download applications, even signing an online contract if needed. “This is a market clearing house,” said Sun’s Green.

Sun also introduced a new application verification kit to help ensure J2EE application portability. The Web services pack (based on 1.3.1 EE SDK) will allow for a single click download for everything needed to build and deploy Web services.


Sun usually goes only a few minutes before bashing the boys of Redmond and their closed-source model, and this JavaOne did not disappoint.

McNealy labelled Microsoft’s .NET strategy .NOT. He warned of companies and people finding themselves locked into a Microsoft environment and not being able to do much about it.

“The first hit of heroin is free,” he said, correlating Microsoft’s model to a drug dealer who wants you hooked on his product. “[Microsoft] is not about community [it] is not about sharing…I can’t leave my kids to a world of control-alt-delete,” he said.

– With files from IDG News Service