Sun Web dev effort shifts to Icesoft

Third-party company providing replacement for Project Woodstock AJAX and JSF technology

With Sun Microsystems having abandoned its Project Woodstock Web application development effort, Icesoft Technologies is picking up the slack.

The project, discontinued last month, featured a group of user interface components for developing with JavaServer Faces and AJAX. But citing resource constraints during tough economic times, Sun eliminated the project. Instead, Icesoft will provide its Icefaces software for users to move forward.

“The [Woodstock] component set was very well received, and we have a number of users that were very happy with it,” said Mark Dey, Sun engineering manager for the NetBeans 6.5 IDE. “But we had to make some tough decisions as to where to put our resources.

“[Woodstock] has served us well, but it is resource-intensive, and we’ve identified a partner whose main business is developing a compatible set of user interface components,” said Dey, referring to Icesoft.

Woodstock users can migrate to open source Icefaces page technology, via an Icefaces plug-in, to the NetBeans development environment. (NetBeans 6.5 was released last month.) Developers can build Iceface pages alongside existing Woodstock pages. The company also is providing written guidance.

Users will be able to take legacy products and combine Woodstock pages with Iceface pages in the same project, Dey said. “They’ll be able to preserve their investment.” he said.

Icefaces is freely available, like Woodstock. Icesoft sells related support services.

Icefaces features an AJAX JSF implementation, said Robert Lepack, director of marketing at Icesoft. “Icefaces is a real pure Java implementation to build Java applications, so developers get a much easier framework to work with,” Lepack said.

Sun’s Dey lauded the Icesoft effort.

“We believe our customers will be better served by us partnering with Icesoft to provide a first-class set of UI components that can evolve over time,” Dey said. Icesoft will support both the upcoming Java Enterprise Edition 6 and JSF 2.0, which features a simplified way of declaring Web pages, said Dey.

Developers using Woodstock have built applications ranging from three-page Web applications to enterprise-level applications connected to Web services and providing database updates, he said.

Sun remains committed to supporting the Woodstock 4.2, the final version. The company plans to focus on core competencies, including tooling aspects for Web applications, such as editing and debugging support for Java, PHP, Ruby, and other Web languages.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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