Sun upgrades J2SE platform

Plans for Mustang also announced

October 4, 2004—Application developers are getting a raft of new options this week with Sun Microsystems updating J2SE, Borland Software upping its CORBA ante, and Compuware detailing products that will work with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 toolbox.

Sun is updating J2SE with the 5.0 version, also known as Tiger, focusing on ease of development, manageability, startup time, and support for multiple desktop clients. Manifestations of J2SE 5.0 are expected in products such as new JVMs due from various vendors in about six months, according to Sun. A release of J2EE 5.0 is being planned that will take advantage of features in J2SE 5.0.

J2SE features intended to enable faster and more secure coding include support for generics, enumerated types, metadata, and autoboxing of primitive types. With autoboxing, primitive types such as integers can be converted to objects. Version 5.0 also offers an extended “for loop�? function to make it easier to work with collections of items or arrays of objects.

In the area of management, J2SE 5.0 features support for managing Java applications and JVMs through management consoles via SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) and JMX (Java Management Extensions). “For the first time ever, you could monitor if you’re running out of memory,�? said Calvin Austin, J2SE 5.0 specification lead at Sun.

A new feature in J2SE 5.0 called Ocean provides a cross-platform look and feel for Java applications, boosting the visual experience and using modern UI trends, Austin said. “Any Java app can use this look and feel,�? he said. Also featured is a native look and feel function so that if an application is being run on Windows XP or Macintosh, for example, the program will resemble Windows or Macintosh programs.

Sun also is aiming to improve the startup time performance in Version 5.0. Additionally, a performance ergonomics function provides automatic internal settings for larger systems, adjusting parameters such as garbage collection. “We will automatically determine what machine you’re on,�? Austin said.

J2SE 5.0’s startup improvements address performance, which has long been a critical issue with Java, an analyst said.

“The most important factor for me has been the performance,�? said Steve O’Grady, senior analyst at RedMonk. “That has been the crux of the problems that have developed (with) the Java platform, particularly in the startup time. As the JVM gets instantiated, it takes a while for the applications to start up.�?

The new version’s improvements such as autoboxing represent the first additions to the language since Java’s inception, O’Grady said. However, Sun still needs to do more to promote application development on the language, such as by making “Project Buzz�? a collaboration and communication technology, available via open source, O’Grady said.

Sun officials also revealed some details of the next release of Java, code-named “Mustang�? and expected in spring 2006. Proposed themes of Mustang include XML, Web services, the Java desktop, and large systems performance, according to Graham Hamilton, Sun Java platform vice president and fellow, during a conference call to unveil J2SE 5.0.

Mustang will be the subject of multiple JSRs (Java Specification Requests), and a huge number of feature requests are anticipated, according to Sun. The 2006 arrival date, though, did not emerge from an engineering process but rather from gauging how often the user community wants an update, said James Gosling, CTO of the Sun Developer Products Group.

Sun officials during the teleconference also recommitted to the company’s policy of maintaining compatibility rather than submitting the entire platform to an open source availability scheme. Developers still will get free source code for J2SE 5.0 though, Hamilton said.

“We have a very strong compatibility requirement. If you’re going to ship products based on it, we ask that (the products) be compatible,�? Hamilton said.

Borland, meanwhile, announced this week Borland Enterprise Server 6.5, VisiBroker Edition, which is the company’s infrastructure software for CORBA. The new version features performance improvements of about 40 percent to 70 percent.

Although CORBA has taken a backseat to Web services as an integration technology in recent years, at least publicity-wise, Borland is still seeing CORBA growth.

“CORBA’s not dead," said Vince Taisipic, director of product management at Borland. "We’ve had growth quarter over quarter for the last year and a half, even more.�?

Borland also introduced Janeva 6.5, the company’s multiplatform integration software, adding support for application types such as Iona Orbix 3.x and Microsoft applications built on COM/DCOM architectures. The product, which provides interoperability between .Net, J2EE, and CORBA systems, is positioned as an alternative to Web services integration.

Borland’s new Enterprise Server 6.5, AppServer Edition, boasts performance improvements and support for Web services. Also, logging capabilities for JMX have been improved.

The company also unveiled Op-Center 6.5, its application management offering. It features integration with Borland Optimizeit ServerTrace 3.0 for "right-click�? monitoring of J2EE application performance.

Compuware, for its part, plans to boost its products for Microsoft developers, with tools planned to improve application performance, code quality, and security.

Being introduced next year concurrently with Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2005 toolset, the next major release of Compuware’s DevPartner Studio will provide actionable advice on changing code to boost application performance. Compuware’s planned security analysis product for Microsoft developers, which is thus far an unnamed addition to the DevPartner line, will provide static source code analysis for security holes. It also will perform attack simulations at runtime. A third DevPartner product, also currently unnamed, will simulate common error conditions such as lack of memory, low disk space, and network disconnections.

Paul Krill is editor at large at InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.