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Sun Updates Java Developer Tool

Sun Microsystems this week released a new Java developer tool based on its Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE), known internally as "Mantis".

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker managed to cram in 2,400 bug fixes into version 1.4.2 including stabilizing the Installer, the Virtual Machine, I/O and New I/O, JAXP, CORBA, Java IDL, Java RMI-IIOP and security. The update also includes improvements to the JFileChooser as well as "look and feel" enhancements for the latest versions of GTK+ and Microsoft Windows XP.

The new J2SE release ironically comes on the heels of a split decision by a U.S. Court of Appeals, which removed the 'must-carry' injunction on the Windows platform, but prohibits Microsoft from using older versions of Java in its operating system.

As part of the release, Sun also introduced Java Update, which is a software that delivers Java 2 Runtime Environment (J2RE) updates to end users on Windows regularly and automatically. In addition, the company also added NTLM authentication support (Java Plug-in and Java Web Start), and additional Mozilla browser support on Linux.

"The significant v1.4.2 enhancements from deployment are mainly around installation and update," Sun 1.4.2 Deployment Technical Lead Stanley Ho said during a Java Live! briefing on the upgrade. "In this release, we improved the J2RE/J2SDK bundling through Web bundle and full bundle, so features in J2RE/J2SDK can be downloaded and installed on demand with reduced download size.

On the performance front, Sun's development team said it listened to the comments from users about startup time and has focused a significant amount of effort on optimizing the core libraries in 1.4.2.

"A couple of summary results are that startup time for command line applications has been decreased by roughly 30 percent, and for small Swing applications by roughly 15-20 percent," said Sun HotSpot JVM engineer Ken Russell. "These results seem to have carried over to larger applications also; NetBeans starts up about 15 percent faster on 1.4.2 according to our measurements. There are also performance, reliability, scalability, and startup improvements in the JVM.

With J2SE 1.4.2, Sun said Itanium 2 (IA-64) processors are now fully supported through a new server JIT compilier. Previously, J2SE was only supported through the interpreter offered with J2SE 1.4.1.

Russell and Ho also hinted at improvements being eyed for J2SE's next release (code-named Tiger). Officially due out in 2004, the development team said some parts may be available in beta this summer.

"We are planning to make more startup improvements in 1.5, but cannot provide specific details at this time," Russell said. "We are continuing to work with Apple Computer to develop and integrate their VM sharing code, but can make no guarantees about its future availability in Sun's J2SE releases."

The development team did say it is looking at updating the default look and feel (metal) to have a more modern look in v1.5.

The group is still looking for bugs but says it will only issue patches for major problems.