J2EE 1.5 previewed

Ease of development will be a core focus of J2EE 1.5, the follow-up to the much-heralded J2EE 1.4, a Sun Microsystems Inc. official said on Monday.

J2EE 1.5 is due to be discussed at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in late June and be finalized a year afterward, said Joe Keller, vice president of Java Web services and tools marketing at Sun Microsystems, during an interview at the J2EE 1.4 Kickoff event here.

Modeled after the recently announced J2SE 1.5, J2EE 1.5 will provide features such as ease of development, meta data support, and generics. The meta data feature in J2SE 1.5 provides the ability to associate additional, annotated data alongside Java classes, interfaces, and fields. Generic types enable API designers to provide common functionality for use with multiple data types.

The recently released J2EE 1.4 is being hailed as the Web services version of J2EE. But Keller stressed that making it easier to develop with the platform also is critical.

“The developers think the ease of development features are a pretty big deal,” Keller said. Sun has been working to make Java development easier, and plans to release its Java Studio Creator tool for easier Java development next month.

During a panel discussions at the Kickoff event, the question again arose over the possibility of providing the Java programming language under an open source format. Sun, which developed and shepherds the language, has gone back and forth on the issue, with different executives either warming to it or saying it is unlikely. Although Java is not open source, modifications can be suggested via the Java Community Process (JCP).

An IBM Corp. official on Monday said Big Blue, which has been pushing for open source Java, is in preliminary discussions with Sun on the issue. “There’s advantages to it. What remains to be done is now to go about doing that in a meaningful way for our customers,” said Mark Heid, program director for WebSphere at IBM.

But Mark Fleury, CEO and Founder of JBoss, which makes the JBoss open source application server, ironically frowned upon the idea. Sun’s stewardship has produced great success for Java, he said. Maintaining portability is key, he stressed. Fleury added he did not see that a lot would be gained by open sourcing Java. Sun’s Jeff Jackson, vice president of Java software engineering, said any effort to offer Java on an open source basis would have to go through the JCP.

Also at the event:

– Keller said the formal launch of the Java Tools Community is expected in early May. The community, first announced in January, includes BEA Systems, Sun, and Oracle and is intended to promote interoperability of Java-based tools. IBM and Borland, however, have been absent from the organization.

– A BEA executive said the company this fall plans to release an update to WebLogic Platform, the company’s suite of software products that includes a portal product, application server, development tool, integration technology, and Java Virtual Machine. A J2EE 1.4-compliant version of the application server will be included, although BEA already supports most J2EE 1.4 features already, according to Benjamin Renaud, deputy CTO at BEA. The company at its BEA eWorld conference here in late May plans to discuss its services-oriented architecture plans, which involve enabling an architecture for leveraging services to develop new applications, Renaud said.

– Sun announced the latest J2EE 1.4 licensee, Shenzhen Kingdee Middleware, of the People’s Republic of China. Several companies announced timelines for completing J2EE 1.4 compatibility, including Trifork of Denmark, which expects to ship a compliant application server in July.

– Sun announced availability of J2EE 1.4 Application Verification Kit. Previously a priced product, the kit tests for portability and correct use of J2EE APIs.

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