J2SE 5.0, aka Project Tiger, is one of the largest projects created through the Java Community Process, involving more than 100 major new features and 160 expert members participation, said Calvin Austin, Version 5.0s specification lead and a Sun engineer.
During a conference call on Thursday, Graham Hamilton, a Sun vice president and fellow who served as lead architect in the development of J2SE 5.0, said the upgrade had six themes: quality; performance and scalability; monitoring and management; the desktop client; ease of development; and support for XML.
Austin said J2SE 5.0 evolved from 15 different JSRs (Java Specification Requests), citing new language features such as support for generics, metadata, enumerated types and auto-boxing of primitive types as key features.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun made a big splash over the Tiger release of Java at its JavaOne conference last June in San Francisco, bringing a baby tiger onstage as Hamilton and others discussed the new features of J2SE 5.0.
"The stuff at JavaOne was primarily fluff to let developers know what was coming," said Matt Schmidt, director of technology at Javalobby.org in Cary, N.C. "This is more real to me."
"Now well see the real Java 5 being used and deployed," said Bruno Souza, head of SouJava (Sociedade de Usuarios Java ), Brazils largest Java user group, based in Sao Paulo.
"With all the enhancements and new features in Java 5, I think its probably the most significant release to Java since Java 2," Schmidt said.
The Tiger release features a modernized look and feel and is the foundation for delivering Java both on the desktop and through the enterprise, the company said.
However, adoption may take some time.
"I think its likely at least a year before we see real wide adoption, at least in the larger companies," Schmidt said. "Some people are still stuck on JDK [Java Development Kit] 1.3."
"On the server side it should be adopted quickly," Souza said. "Desktop is a different matter, unless we see some big push of Java on the desktop."
Meanwhile, Suns Austin said during the conference call, "Some companies are looking to roll out as soon as we launch today." He told eWEEK that based on the "huge" number of downloads of pre-release J2SE 5.0, "I expect to see quick adoption."
"This is a very major update of the Java platform and one of the biggest weve ever done," Hamilton said.
He said Sun took J2SE 5.0 through the Java Community Process and got final approval from the community two weeks ago. "We also got a big thumbs-up from our QA [quality assurance] team," he said.
In an interview with eWEEK, Austin said existing Java applications will be able to run on the J2SE 5.0 platform unchanged, but to take advantage of Version 5.0s new features developers would have to recode portions of their programs.
In addition, "we doubled the number of tests in the compatibility suite," he said. The J2SE 5.0 Technology Compatibility Kit features more than 150,000 tests.
In addition, Austin said J2SE 5.0 will spark the creation of new tools for developers, particularly new profiling and analysis tools. "We have a cool technology called byte code insertion, so now you can profile in real-time." J2SE 5.0 also enables developers to "pre-template" code, "so other analyzing tools can read the metadata," he said.
"Im really happy with the amount of support showing up in tools for J2SE Tiger," said James Gosling, the creator of Java and Suns CTO for its developer products group. "Both Borland [Software Corp.] and IBM have announced plans to support Tiger," and Suns NetBeans open-source platform also supports it, he said.
"Im pretty enthusiastic about this release; its just fabulous," Gosling added. "If I had to pick my favorite [JSR] itd be the generics [support]."
Jeff Jackson, vice president of Java and developer platform strategy at Sun, said the next version of J2SE, code-named Mustang, is expected in the spring of 2006.
Hamilton said Mustang will continue on the themes of the Tiger release. "Were still planning Mustang so we cant give you a lot of details, but proposed themes will be quality, XML and Web services, and enhancements to Java on the desktop," he said.
In addition to Sun, other companies and organizations that participated in the J2SE 5.0 expert group included the Apache Software Foundation, Apple Computer Inc., BEA Systems Inc., Borland, Cisco Systems Inc., Fujitsu Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Macromedia Inc., Nokia Corp., Oracle Corp., SAP AG, SAS Institute Inc., SavaJe Technologies.