Sun offers sneak peek at J2EE 1.5

Ease of development will be a core focus of J2EE 1.5, the followup to the much-heralded J2EE 1.4, a Sun Microsystems Inc. official said recently.

J2EE 1.5 is due to be discussed at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco in late June and be finalized a year later, 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 in California.

Modeled after the recently announced J2SE 1.5, J2EE 1.5 will provide features such as ease of development, metadata support and generics. The metadata 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 is also 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 discussion 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 last month 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.

As well, 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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