Sun Adds Database, New Look to Java SE 6

Normally, a product is feature-complete by its second beta, but Sun Microsystems is still adding features to Java Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6), due this fall.

Sun is adding Java DB, the Sun-supported distribution of Apache’s Derby Project and the group layout SWING component from the NetBeans GUI Builder.

In addition to the growing bundle for Java SE 6, Sun announced new licensing agreements with Lenovo and Founder Technology Group to bundle the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on their hardware.

The second beta release of Java SE 6 technology is available now, with a final release expected in the fall of this year. There are five notable changes to the software, which is meant primarily as a client-side installation: updated Web services, using the same Web services that are in the recently-released Java EE 5; support for scripting languages like Python, Perl and Ruby; improved monitoring diagnostics; changes to the client look and feel; and improvements to developer tools.

It’s also the first time a Java build has been done in a completely open development process, where weekly builds were released in both binary and source code formats, said Bill Curci, product marketing manager from Java SE at Sun .

As part of this, Sun held a “Regressions Challenge” contest for developers to find bugs on Java SE 6, and 72 bugs were found. Sun had a total of 330 developers actively testing the software through this process.

Beginning today, Java DB will be added to the weekly builds of Java SE 6 and can be used for building client/server or embedded applications requiring a small (2MB footprint) database. Use of the database is free, support will cost you.

The SWING visual designer for NetBeans will allow faster development of interfaces, while at the same time preserving the look and feel of a platform’s applications. Java applications have a distinct look that identifies them right away. With the addition of the visual designer, it makes Java applications mimic the look of the native platform better, said Curci.

Finally, Sun has secured the last two major PC OEMs (with HP and Dell already on board) to bundle Java SE with their systems. Founder Technology Group and Lenovo, both major players in China and the rest of Asia, have agreed to offer Java SE 6 when its complete. The two will offer Java SE 6 on a range of business and consumer desktop and notebook PCs.

Michael Cote, analyst with RedMonk, said Java SE has proven to be a solid platform, even if it gets less press than Java EE. “Sun does a good job of having not a lot of framework stuff baked into Java SE. That way it’s easier to layer frameworks on top of it,” he said.

He particularly liked the addition of the database to the Java SE platform.

“Bundling a database in there will be interesting for people to use. When I do Java development, it’s always a hassle to get another database, so if there’s one offered with the platform, it’s a lot easier than having to get tangled up in something else,” he said.

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