J2EE Update Sparks Tool Debate

In the realm of J2EE development, ease of use and compatibility are the
goals, but the toolmakers are still debating on how best to get there.

Sun Microsystems Monday said that it would preview
the next generation of J2EE (version 1.5) at its JavaOne conference in June, with the full release scheduled mid-2005. The next-generation
platform is expected to build on the support of Web services
with a fresh round of “ease of use,” annotations,
persistence aspects and Enterprise Java Beans 3.0. The beta release is being
timed to take advantage of Sun’s Java Studio Creator tool (formerly known as
Project Rave) when it debuts next month.

“Version 1.5 will also support top link and lightweight versions to
address the different environments,” Steve Harris, VP of the Java Platform
Group, Oracle, told internetnews.com. Harris said the JCP has already
begun working on J2EE version 1.6 with the express goal of adding in more
integration with Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) for Web

But even with new J2EE versions in place, a meeting this week of the top
Java application developer companies showed some disparity in the ranks.
When it comes to the tools that developers will eventually use to build
their applications, there are definite choices.

Next month, the Java Tools Community is expected to officially debut with
support from Sun, Oracle, and BEA, .
Meantime, IBM and Borland have chosen
a separate path with the Eclipse project.

The issue of dueling integrated development environments (IDE)
recently came to a head after Sun refused to join the consortium, putting Sun’s seven-year-old NetBeans
project in direct conflict with other IDEs. Industry watchers say the
rankling could further polarize the industry’s attempt to unite Java
development efforts to combat Microsoft’s .NET

Joe Keller, Sun vice president of Java Web services and tools marketing,
took the time during the press event to offer an olive branch to the Eclipse
project membership. Analysts have warned that continued arguments within the
J2EE community would only drive a wedge further between Java developers and
the alternative, Microsoft’s Visual Studio .NET platform.

Michael Dortch, principal business analyst with the Robert Frances Group,
suggests that the Geronimo projects from the Apache Software Foundation
offer great promise for providing a strong link between J2EE and Open
Source technologies. Geronimo application server is about to go into J2EE
testing certification and has an unofficial release date of August 6, 2004.
A beta version is expected later this month.

“However, Geronimo is very much a work in progress, and not even
participants in the project publicly hazard any guesses about time frames
for specific deliverables,” Dortch told internetnews.com. “IT
executives should watch this space closely, but should not expect any
developments of major import to their enterprises for at least another 12 to
18 months. By that time, Geronimo project participants should have delivered
enough early elements to enable IT executives to begin asking specific
questions about applicability within and potential business benefits to
their enterprises.”

According to the latest Netcraft numbers, the deck is very much stacked
in Apache’s favor. Among enterprise deployments, however, Microsoft’s
Internet Information Services (IIS) platform is king by a huge margin.

META Group Vice President and analyst Thomas Murphy said the companies
are also mulling how to turn development projects into a profit-making

“Well, everyone has a different angle, but tools generally aren’t it —
unless you are Borland,” Murphy told internetnews.com. “For most of
them, tools are a give-away practically or a cover-the-expenses model.
which is what Microsoft uses. So, they may be like IBM looking at services,
which is the same thing JBoss is really doing. But IBM is doing a larger
model of service. You may really be selling other stuff on top: portal,
business framework, apps, like SAP. You may be Pramatti, and you can
just sell the app server for a lot less because it costs you a lot
less, since your development is all in India. So, usually if someone is
‘giving’ you something for ‘free,’ there is either a hidden cost or different
business model.”

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