Sun Releases Java EE 5, More Open Source Projects

Sun Microsystems kicked off its annual JavaOne conference with a trio of announcements concerning code availability: it’s offering two new open source efforts and has officially released Java Platform 5, Enterprise Edition.

Sun has never been short on hyperbole and isn’t about to start now. It proclaimed Java EE 5 “the most significant update to Enterprise Java in six years,” due to the significant overhauls in several areas, including a new version of Enterprise JavaBeans.

The changes in Java EE 5 reflect trends in Web technology, said Peder Ulander, director of marketing for desktop solutions at Sun. “When you look at solutions like JBoss, WebSphere and WebLogic, they were focused on client/server apps that worked inside of a company,” he said.

“The edge [of the network] has become that new core and everything is moving toward a Web tier, and there is a push to simple scripting languages like Ajax, Ruby, and Java on the edge of the Web,” he said. “With Java EE 5, we’ve built all those hooks to enable developers to build this new base of Web apps.”

The Java EE 5 platform consists of a Reference Implementation, Technology Compatibility Kit and Software Development Kit, which includes the free Sun Java System Application Server Platform Edition 9.0 developed through Project GlassFish. It can be downloaded from Sun’s developer site.

The latest Java technologies to hit the open source world include Sun Java Studio Creator, Sun Java System Portal Server, the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) Engine from the Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite (Java CAPS), as well as Sun’s Java Message System (JMS)-based message queue and Web Services Interoperability Technology (WSIT).

This move, said Ulander, is just the latest step in Sun’s open source strategy. “It again comes back to the strategy where we’re going to do everything we can to open source our software,” he said. “The community looking at it drives innovation. So there’s a chance interoperability will get better and better by leveraging it into the open community.”

Sun also announced the release of WS-* components to drive interoperability between Java and Microsoft’s .Net framework. These Web Services Interoperability Technology (WSIT) components cover security, messaging, quality of service and metadata support. Along with these services, Sun is releasing a NetBeans 5.5 plug-in for WSIT for developing cross-platform Web services.

Sun is also looking to make life a little easier for smaller, lesser-used operating systems with the Operating Systems Distribution License for Java. It’s a new license model that allows open source distributions to make Java a part of the base system. Sun has deals with big players like Red Hat, but this is meant for growing distributions like Ubuntu Linux and Debian Linux, said Ulander.

While Sun is making a strong open source push, it’s shunning one open source project with tremendous momentum: Eclipse.

“Sun cannot find a way to make an accommodation with Eclipse, and they’re going to be out on their own,” John Rymer, vice president of application development and infrastructure research at Forrester Research, told

“It’s going to be tough for them. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of alternatives, but it seems like everyone else in the Java space is committed to Eclipse.

Rymer said Sun has its own community built around NetBeans, which a lot of people have unfairly dismissed.

“There’s a fair amount of excitement and participation in the NetBeans effort, but it’s not at the level of Eclipse,” he said. And most developers tend to stick with one tool project. They aren’t likely to use both NetBeans and Eclipse, he added.

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