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The Many Faces of J2EE, v5.0

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Enterprise Java vendors may be in sync about advancements in the upcoming version of J2EE , but they sharply contrast in their future plans for the spec.

As a business tool, J2EE has grown in use with vendors like Sun Microsystems, IBM and BEA who promote it in Java-friendly shops as a development platform and an alternative to Microsoft's .NET framework.

But each vendor is also expected to customize aspects of the next-generation enterprise programming language into their own software products. For example, Sun said it is focusing on components that use Java language "annotations" or Metadata (JSR-175). The advancement is expected to power runtime APIs and let tools and libraries access metadata information.

Borland is paying more attention to implementing the Java Virtual Machine Profiling Interface (JVMPI) in its Optimizeit ServerTrace product line. Recently renamed Java Virtual Machine Tool Interface, or JVMTI, the two-way function call interfaces between the Java virtual machine and an in-process profiler agent.

The technology can obtain a variety of information such as heavy memory allocation sites, CPU usage hot-spots, unnecessary object retention, and monitor contention, for a comprehensive performance analysis.

"I'm happy to see experimentation but I'd also like us to see us converge on a single road. The process is the community, said Graham Hamilton, vice president of Java Platform Architecture for Sun Microsystems.

The next version -- J2EE 5.0 (previously identified as 1.5) -- is based on the recently released J2SE 5.0 (code-named Tiger) and will extend the capabilities of J2EE version 1.4 as well as build on JSR-175 to simplify development and attract a wider range of developers, including the intermediate or even beginners.

J2EE is currently in development with a proposed final draft due out in January 2005. The JCP is anticipating a March 2005 RI beta release with the final release coming in July 2005 and shipping in products sometime in the first quarter of 2006.

Whereas J2EE 1.4 delivered basic Web services support, including support for the WS-I Basic Profile, J2EE 5.0 will define other proposed advancements, include support for Enterprise Java Beans 3 (EJB), JAX-RPC 2.0, and JavaServer Faces 1.0.

Sun's focus on annotations is expected to cut down on the amount of work for developers, especially when declaring Web services and mappings between simple Java objects and rows of database objects.

"We noticed that we were doing a lot of declaratives in Java programming and currently if you want to write an EJB to determine tax, for example, you would need a database to look up the rates," Bill Shannon, J2EE architect and platform spec lead said. "Then, you needed a Java file to talk to an XML file to get the data that forced a forest of angle brackets to get down to the Tax Bean -- as well as some type of resource definition that said it needs a JBC resource connection."

Shannon said annotation is also valuable around EJB and EJB container management persistence as well.

In a related item, the JCP membership elected Google, JBoss and Intel to the Java SE/EE Executive Council in its fifth annual elections, and Intel and Orange France to the Java ME Executive Council. The members will take their place on November 30. No longer on the SE/EE elected list are Macromedia and Nokia. Texas Instruments was not voted back to the Java ME council. The influence of JBoss may rock the boat when it comes to adopting the J2EE 5.0 standard. The absence of Burton Group analyst Richard Monson-Haefel as a ratified member is also expected to be felt.

JCP chairman Onno Kluyt welcomed the membership in a statement and called on the Executive Committee members to help guide the evolution of the Java technology with their votes.