LAS VEGAS -- After describing Java as a stable technology with no great surprises likely to come, Java experts during a conference panel session fielded questions about the competitive power of Microsoft's rival .Net platform.
Speaking during a session Saturday at TheServerSide Java Symposium here, panelists acknowledged the vitality of Microsoft .Net development technology but defended their prized Java platform. The session was entitled, "Future of Enterprise Java Keynote Panel" and featured executives from companies such as Sun Microsystems and BEA Systems.
An audience member identifying himself as a Motorola employee expressed concerns about Java's future. He asked why developers should be confident that J2EE would survive the Microsoft onslaught.
"I can see some of the new [projects] that are in the works. They're all .Net. All the younger developers that I’m associated with are all in .Net," he said.
Panelist Mark Hapner, Web services strategist at Sun, cautioned against relying too much on Microsoft technologies. While .Net is a strong competitor. it is tightly controlled by Microsoft, he stressed.
"Basically, Microsoft sucks the air out of .Net for everything that they classify as being of strong interest to themselves and there really is no place for other contributions," he said.
"If you just do [development] for .Net, you're propping yourself up on [Microsoft's] economic model. They get to change it however they choose," Hapner said.
J2EE, on the other hand, supports a collaborative community, Hapner said. "I think [J2EE is] the place where developers and vendors and open source communities can really work together in a way you can't do in .Net," said Hapner.
A day earlier at the conference, Rod Johnson, founder of the Spring framework, had argued that Java had fended off the .Net challenge. He also served on Saturday's panel.
Another audience member questioned how to lure Microsoft developers into the Java camp and how to simplify Java.
"I think that's where you're seeing a lot of these frameworks develop," such as Hibernate, to make Java easier to use, responded panelist Cliff Schmidt, an official with the open source program office at BEA.
Panelist Dion Almaer, an editor at TheServerSide.com, said he witnessed significant interest in Java at Microsoft's TechEd conference last year. "I was amazed at how interested people were in Java," Almaer said.
JavaServer Faces (JSF) technology is being used to make Java development easier, Hapner said. JSF provides reusable user interface elements for building the visual interface to a Web application. Components are rendered into page elements such as text and hyperlinks.
Citing Microsoft's reputation for providing easy development, Johnson stressed Microsoft's strength in marketing messages about ease of use.
"If Microsoft has something that's easy to use, they have a budget to tell you how easy to use it is," Johnson said.
Commenting after the panel session, Floyd Marinescu, founder of TheServerSide online community for Java developers, said he did not believe there would be many conversions from Java to .Net and vice versa, unless there was a specific need. The platforms do the same thing, said Marinescu. "I think there's always going to be committers," to the different camps, he said. TheSeverSide also has an online site for .Net.