Java Vendors Look To Add Jolt To Tech, Community

On the eve of next week's JavaOne, there are signs that the major Java vendors -- IBM, Oracle, BEA, Sun, Borland and many others -- are each in their own way looking to re-invigorate the development language, and the community. See where the pushes -- and pulls -- will come from in the Java world this summer.

Tags: Java, Developers, JSR, GUI, Standards, Web Services, J2EE,

On the eve of next week's JavaOne, there are signs that all the major Java vendors -- IBM, Oracle, BEA, Sun, Borland and many others -- are each in their own way looking to re-invigorate the development language, and the community.

JavaOne will be a showcase for new tools/products. IBM for its part will hold a separate Integration Day for its J2EE Websphere platform also on JavOne's opening day of June 10. (IDN will have more on JavaOne and IBM Integration Day announcements in our next IDN issue).

But, even before the curtain rises on these events, execs at the biggest Java-centric companies are all lining up to help Java and the Java Community Process (JCP) to catch up to some new demands -- and some long-standing ones -- of today's developers.

Tops on the list is the JCP's latest revision of its rules. JSR 215 is aimed at opening up future Java standards to public review earlier, and giving non-vendors a bigger say in standards by pushing back a vote on proposed standards until after a second review period. In short, the goal is to enable a wider Java developer audience to contribute feedback to specifications development.

"We're now focusing more on day-to-day things like how to make expert groups more effective, how to make the process more transparent and how to speed up the process," said Onno Kluyt, a Sun engineer and director of the JCP PMO in a statement.

Other items in the queue that signal shifts in JCP/Java policies and technologies include:

  • The push to make J2EE 1.4 complaint with the WS-I's (Web Services Interoperability Organization's) Basic Profile for web services. In 1.4 we'll learn from our mistakes in the past, and 1.4 will be successful.

  • The work to conform J2EE 1.4 is a "top priority," but is a bit on hold for now, Dennis MacNeil, senior product manager for Sun's J2EE enterprise told IDN. "We're still pushing for end of summer. But now, we're just waiting for the WS-I to finalizes", MacNeil said. "One of the things we have to do is look at all the specs that are impacted by it and make sure that we have proper tests in place and proper reference implementations to verify you're following along basic guidelines for the WS-I Basic Profile."

    MacNeil also said that crafting these new tests could be "a fair amount of work," and will prompt Sun to modify some tests, as well as create new ones. Currently, J2EE has some 20,000+ conformance tests.

  • BEA Systems has submitted JSR proposal (181) to provide a simplified model for web services development that is easy to learn and quick to develop with. The specification will focus on enabling the commonly needed forms of web services required for achieving robust, maintainable, and highly interoperable integration. In specific, JSR 181 would spell out how to use Java classes with declarative annotations to automatically generate the necessary J2EE components needed to build and support XML-based Web services, robust, enterprise-class Web services.

    BEA's president Olivier Helleboid told IDN in a recent interview that "J2EE is simply too complicated, and we need to take steps in the standards process to make J2EE easier to work with." Helleboid also said that Java in general needs to better interoperate with non-Java languages, especially Microsoft's ASP and .Net.

  • Oracle, for its part, is sponsoring a JSR (198) to establish a common API for extending Java IDEs regardless of the vendor or project. With it, Java developers and partners would be able to write an extension to the API once and have that extension automatically interoperate with any other Java IDE that adheres to the standard without any changes, according to Oracle.

  • "I see that some of the tool vendors need a JSR to standardize tool plug-ins, and this could offer standardization for plug-ins across multiple tools' platforms moving forward," MacNeil said.

  • Through the Java Server Faces JSR (127) a wide variety of vendors want to craft rules and APIs to make Java easier to build custom GUI interfaces for. This proposal defines a standard set of JSP tags and Java classes that simplify building Java Server application GUIs. It will also help bridge the gap between conventional GUI toolkit developers and web based GUI developers.

  • The JSR describes the problem with Java GUI development as follows: The Servlet/JSP environment defines no APIs specifically for creating the client GUI. To build a JSP page that contains one or more HTML forms, a developer must manage the form's GUI state and build a mechanism to dispatch from incoming HTTP requests to component specific event handling methods. When constructing a web site that provides a complex GUI, developers often create special purpose infrastructure that simplifies re-using form parts and facilitates the process of applying sweeping style and behavioral changes to all of the GUI elements on the site.

  • There's also efforts to improve on the current Java Standard Edition:

  • This summary and link on J2SE 1.5 comes courtesy of Slashdot. An early access prototype implementation of the proposed new J2SE 1.5 language features is available.

    The prototype includes generics (JSR 14), typesafe enums, varargs, autoboxing, foreach loops, and static import (JSR 201). In other words, all the new language features planned for 1.5 except metadata (JSR 175). The prototype includes full sources for the compiler, written in the extended language. You can download the prototype from It requires J2SE 1.4.1 and provides some examples of how to use the new language constructs. The prototype includes an experimental type system (variant type parameters) for Generic Java that is being considered for Tiger (1.5) based on a paper by Igarashi and Viroli at ECOOP 2002 . Comments and votes for the new type system are being gathered at bugParade."