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Java Man Raves About Developers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The man who invented the Java programming language said even after eight years of working the code, he is still awed by its potential.

"Seeing what people are doing with it blows my mind," quipped James Gosling during a breakfast meeting with reporters Thursday.

The Sun Microsystems Fellow and vice president of its R&D Labs has been strolling the grounds at the JavaOne 2003 Developer Conference here applauding the work that developers have been doing.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company is on a mission to establish Java as a unified brand and to build its developer's base from 3 million to 10 million in the next year or so. The strategy includes meshing J2SE and J2EE as well as J2ME and J2EE capabilities through a host of Java Specification Requests (JSR)

For example, one of the new JSRs (223), approved Monday, describes how to write portable Java classes that can be invoked from a page written in any scripting language, with PHP serving as the reference scripting language implementation. It also includes details on security, resources and class loader contexts. Sun worked with PHP developers Zend Technologies to create the JSR and assemble the expert group and endorsers, which include Apple, Borland, Macromedia, MySQL, Sun, Oracle and Zend. The new specification is expected to make products that enable building n-tier applications that have a web scripting front-end which utilizes Java objects. Examples of such applications include: a Web-based scheduling system that accesses an enterprise-wide Java-based personal contacts system for names and e-mail addresses; or a web-based CRM system that connects to Java-based transactional systems for purchasing and transaction processing activities.

Sun is also spending $500 million on advertising and extending the development process to non-expert Java coders as part of its Project Rave concept.

For Gosling, it has been a week of building his Web blog on the newly launched java.net and trying to show how Java can be found in just about every device from PCs, phones and cars to refrigerators, toasters and even systems that control the recently launched Mars Rover.

"I'm happy that the simplicity of the language allows it to be put into so many things," Gosling said. "You know you've won when the application runs and you forget that the programming language is there."

Part of the portability of Java was increased Wednesday, when Sun revealed that both Hewlett-Packard and Dell would be shipping their PCs and laptops with the Java Runtime Environment instead of following Microsoft's lead to eliminate it.

A good example of Java's impact is the gaming sector. Gosling said companies like Electronic Arts, which runs games in Java, would have problems because of Web browser compatibility.

Sun has been making several inroads into the multi-billion dollar gaming industry. Last week, the company named Chris Melissinos Chief Gaming Officer and created Sun Game Technologies Group to help network games played online and on standalone consoles.

On the application side, Sun has been showcasing some of Java's more interesting conscripts. During Gosling's keynote Wednesday, the company showed off a cell phone-based navigation system giving access to GPS data through a Java enabled cell phone. In addition, Gosling introduced a concept demo using JXTA, a peer-to-peer technology, to dynamically update GPS systems and alert drivers to current traffic flow situations.

Sun also showed its industrial Java technology as part of a joint robot initiative developed by aJile Systems, Cyberonix, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, and Sun.

But on a coolness factor of 10, Gosling was joined on stage by Dan Dvorak, a deputy architect of the Mission Data System with Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) to demo a Mars Rover exploration prototype, using RTSJ (Real Time Specification for Java technology) to manipulate the rover around the stage. The joint initiative between Sun Labs, JPL and Carnegie Mellon University is getting the green light to power some of the technology in future spacecraft.

"The thought of Java technology on other planets is just too cool," said Gosling.