Sun to embrace past and future at 10th JavaOne show

JavaOne will see more products being made free or open source

As Sun Microsystems gears up for its 10th JavaOne show, the company plans to celebrate the programming language's first decade, comment on Java's present standing, and look ahead to its future. The show runs from Monday to Thursday at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

"At JavaOne, we're going to see more products being made free or open source," said Rick Ross, president of Javalobby, a 200,000-strong Java developer community founded in 1997. He pointed to Monday's release at the show of Version 3.1 of the Eclipse open-source IDE (integrated development environment) from nonprofit consortium Eclipse Foundation.

For its part, Sun has already made a version of its operating system open source with its OpenSolaris software.

"JavaOne is the largest developer show in the world," said Joe Keller, Sun's vice president of marketing for Java web services and tools. "In many ways, the vision 10 years ago has come to pass with Java in networking technologies ranging from smart cards to handhelds to servers." Sun estimates that the Java movement has been driven by the efforts of 4.5 million developers worldwide and that there are some 2.5 billion Java-enabled devices on the planet, he added.

One of Sun's focuses at the show will be Mustang, the next planned version of Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition (J2SE), according to Keller. New features in the software will likely fall into the following buckets -- the Java language, development tools, core libraries, serviceability, security and networking, JME (Java management extensions), XML (Extensible Markup Language) and enterprise client, he said. Mustang is due to ship in the middle of next year. Sun will provide more details on Mustang's successor, Dolphin, at the technical keynote at JavaOne. Dolphin is expected to appear in the second half of 2007.

"Some of the coolest stuff at JavaOne will be in relation to GUIs [graphical user interfaces]," Javalobby's Ross predicted. "One thing that's extremely cool are the new desktop Java capabilities Sun will be showing with Mustang. I've seen some of that stuff and it's killer." However, he points out that there are increasing numbers of routes for client-side developers to take. There's Sun and Microsoft, and also Apple Computer as it moves its Macintosh OS X to PCs built on Intel chips.

Sun will also discuss the next release of its Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE), code-named Glassfish, Sun's Keller added, along with the next version of its Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME), which lacks a code name.

The company expects plenty of emphasis on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web services both from the company itself and from its partners, according to Keller.

While Sun continues to refuse to break out how much Java contributes to its bottom line, Keller said the company believes Java has driven more than US$100 billion of business across the IT market. "Java is one of the key strategic technologies to Sun," he said, "The [Java] business has enabled revenue building in every year, it's part of the whole."

Keller claims that Java is making more inroads as desktop software, pointing to Sun statistics estimating that more than 700 million PCs are Java enabled and that the company has directly delivered 100 million Java runtimes to the desktop community.

Java has been widely viewed as something of a failure on the desktop. "That's less of an issue than it has been," Keller said. "It was true, but last year we reversed that when we were able to resolve our issues with Microsoft." Having settled their legal differences, the pair has been working at Java and .Net interoperability for over a year as will be indicated by the presence of Microsoft executives and a Microsoft booth at the Sun show. However, Microsoft still refuses to ship Java as part of its Windows operating system.

Sun officials won't comment on expected numbers for the show, but last year's event drew 14,000 to 15,000 attendees. The first JavaOne in 1996 garnered 6,000 visitors.

Another interesting area will be Sun's demoing of the GUIs for its NetBeans 4.1 IDE and future versions of the software, according to Javalobby's Ross. On the Sunday before the show, Sun will hold an all-day session focusing on NetBeans and other Sun developer tools. On hand will be various company luminaries, including Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's president and chief operating officer; the original designer of Java, James Gosling, chief technology officer for Sun's developer platforms group; and Tim Bray, the co-inventor of XML and Sun's director of Web technologies.

Keynote speakers at the show will include Sun Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy and chief technology officers from BEA Systems, Borland Software, and Nokia. However Ross believes the really interesting event will be Gosling's keynote, entitled "Stretch Your Mind." "It's where some of the desktop magic is going to occur," Ross said.

Following that keynote, according to the JavaOne Web site (http://java.sun.com/javaone), Gosling will host a panel discussion to debate whether Java should adopt a new community and development model. Panelists will include Brian Behlendorf, chief technology officer of CollabNet, Tim O'Reilly, founder and president of O'Reilly Media and Larry Lessig, professor at Stanford University, known for his work on copyright issues.

"It's important to see Java from the perspective of being an industry, not merely as products from company X, Y and Z," said Ross. "That's part of the maturing of Java."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.