Sun details Java open source plans

Expect the open-sourcing of the Java programming language to be done in incremental steps, with some pieces available by next June — but not the entire platform, Robert Brewin, co-CTO of Sun Microsystems’ software group, said Monday afternoon.

Interviewed in Palo Alto, Calif., Brewin cited the magnitude of the processes involved in offering Java via open source. “It’s a huge body of code,” Brewin said. Due diligence, such as making sure code is unencumbered, must be done, he said.

“I believe that we will have components of Java released into open source within the year,” meaning by next June, Brewin said. “I think [release of] the whole thing will take a little bit longer,” he said.

Some components of Java that could be open-sourced in an incremental fashion include the Java virtual machine, the runtime environment, the Web services stack and the Swing GUI components. There has been some discussion about releasing the virtual machine, Swing, and the runtime at the same time, Brewin said.

Sun voiced intentions to offer Java via an open source format at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in May, but provided no timetable.

The company has sought to maintain compatibility of the programming language as it pursues an open source road for Java.

Sun already has offered Project Glassfish, an implementation of Sun’s application server, via an open source format.

Also at Sun, the company is eyeing the addition of lightweight REST (Representational State Transfer) Web services and more scripting language support to the Sun Java Studio Creator and NetBeans developer tools, Brewin said. An announcement is expected in four to six weeks.

Scripting languages being pondered as part of the effort include JavaScript, Python, and Ruby. The Ruby on Rails Web framework also may be supported.

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