Sun pushes for Java ubiquity

Unified front sought for programming language

SAN FRANCISCO -- Making Java ubiquitous and presenting a unified Java to make that happen are key goals Sun Microsystems has for its popular programming language, company officials said Tuesday during a keynote presentation at the JavaOne conference here.

There still will be separate versions of Java for enterprise, mobile, and card deployment, according to Sun officials Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of the software group at Sun, and John Fowler, Sun CTO of software. The company nonetheless is looking to provide for unified face among these different flavors of Java to present to the marketplace, the officials said. To make development easier, the company is working to make sure that different parts of the Java platform are no longer developed in isolation.

Schwartz hailed Java's success and stressed that the platform must grow in areas such as on handheld devices and in consumer and gaming applications. Java is in 100 percent of Fortune 500 companies, he said.

"I think we've been fabulously successful in some ways that no one could have [predicted] five or six years ago," Schwartz said.

Java is pervasive in clients, servers, desktops, handheld devices, and Web services, he stressed. "The majority of Web services that are built today are going to be built using Java," he added. About a half-billion desktops run Java, according to Schwartz.

Java will be in printers, TVs, Webcams, cash registers, PDAs, and even gas pumps, Schwartz said. But unity is needed in Java and a common platform is needed to bring together different components. No one wants different sets of technologies for multiple architectures, Schwartz stressed.

"To do that, we've got to build out one network. We've got to make sure those mobile devices are interacting with those desktops, which are interacting with those servers," Schwartz said.

He touted a single platform, called "The Java System," to provide a unified face among Java variants.

The JavaCard, Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME), Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE), and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) versions of Java must be integrated as one system to provide for simplification and grow the Java developer base from its current 3 million developers to 10 to 15 million developers, said Schwartz.

"If we do [this unification], we're going to take the network effect we've got and we're going to propel it," he said.

Fowler stressed that Sun, in addition to ensuring interoperability with the Microsoft .Net platform, is planning a host of improvements, such as greater programmability for handset applications improvements. Ease of development will be the major focus of J2EE and J2SE 1.5, Fowler said. 

Sun also is working on a project called "Fast Web Services Everywhere," intended to boost Web services by using WSDL as the IDL instead of XML and also using binary wire protocol. This has resulted in a five- to tenfold improvement in performance, said Fowler.

Schwartz also introduced a new logo for Java, which looks slightly different than the existing coffee cup brand. "I think we recognize that the brand really drives a lot of value. It drives awareness," Schwartz said. "Awareness of Java means it's easier to sell your product to the marketplace," he added.

A user applauded Sun's re-branding efforts for Java. “The most interesting thing was the way they intend to expand the Java market presence and the Java image with the new icon and the new Web site,” said Herb Bowie, IT manager at Boeing.

“I think it makes sense, especially with Java expanding into mobile devices and into the cell phone market … with consumers who buy PCs they may want to know if it's got an Intel processor. With somebody buying a cell phone, they may actually want to know that it’s got Java,” Bowie said.

Another user said Microsoft's being a non-player in Java may not hurt the platform if Java is strong enough. "If [Java] has enough capabilities, Microsoft will not be able to hold it back," said Gary Kratkiewicz, scientist at software developer BBN Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass.

Sun at the show announced:

* Sun Developer Mobility Program, to provide resources to create, test, and verify J2ME applications and market them to consumers and enterprises.

* Business Mobility Initiative, a program to deliver mobile solutions to the enterprise.

*, a Web site to promote consumer products and partners using Java, and, a Web portal for Java developers and innovators.

* Along with Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, and Sony Ericsson, Sun announced plans to unify application testing and certification programs into a single initiative to accelerate availability and services for Java-enabled wireless devices.

* Sun ONE Portal Server, Mobile Access 6.2, to extend the capabilities of Sun ONE Portal Server to provide access to personalized data and information from any wireless browser or Java-enabled device.

* The company announced the release of J2SE 1.4.2, featuring an improvement in startup time by as much as 30 percent, according to the company. OpenGL has been updated for enhanced rendering.  Additionally, the release includes support for native OS look and feel for Windows XP and Linux.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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