Sun Builds Out Java Tool Sets

Company targets high- and low-end wireless, Web services and P2P applications.

SAN FRANCISCO--Sun Microsystems Inc. is aggressively expanding its Java technology in multiple directions, with plans for wireless, Web services and peer-to-peer applications.

One project, code-named Monty, is designed to increase Java wireless performance by delivering a JVM (Java virtual machine), based on Suns Connected Limited Device Configuration, for low-end mobile devices. A second JVM, the Connected Device Configuration Dynamic Compiler, is aimed at high-end devices. The technology is based on J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition).

Tying these JVMs to Web services APIs will transform handhelds and other devices into Web services tools, said Richard Green, Suns vice president and general manager of Java and XML software. The low-end JVM is expected in June; the high-end version later this summer, Sun officials said at last weeks JavaOne developer show here.

Charles Ikard, executive vice president of HillCast Technologies Inc., an Austin, Texas, developer of real-time streaming financial applications for mobile devices, said the direction Sun is taking its mobile support with J2ME and projects such as Monty is important to mobile application builders. The computational abilities of J2ME enable HillCast "to do [transaction processing] on the handset.

Theres no need to go back and hit the server," Ikard said.

Meanwhile, Sun is readying another technology, code-named Ace, to help programmers avoid writing massive amounts of code. Ace will be incorporated into Suns Forte tool set and implemented in product form in 12 to 18 months, said Joe Keller, vice president of application and integration services at Suns iPlanet unit. Ace will make development easier for the lighter-weight developers, Keller said. Originally targeting C and C++, Ace now focuses on Java code generation and reduces the lines of code needed to build a program, he said.

Another project, code-named Jackpot, enables code to be edited according to a visual model. Drew Engstrom, product line manager of Forte for Java, said Jackpot depicts with color and graphics how a developer looks at code. Its based on interpretations of how a developers mind works and how the eye moves from one thing to another, Engstrom said.

The move toward easy-to-use assistants and tools for building Java applications is growing, but not all developers see life so rosy. Blake Stone, chief scientist in the Java business unit at Borland Software Corp., in Scotts Valley, Calif., said the talk of easy-to-use tools for lightweight programmers "is a little overblown because what you really need is a spectrum of tools. The idea that the development environment is going to be this easy-to-use layer is a fallacy." Lightweight tools "can [only] get you 90 percent there," he said.

Another project is Rio, a group of Java libraries built on Suns Jini network-centric environment. Sun, of Palo Alto, Calif., has yet to decide whether to release Rio as a product or share it with the open-source community, said Stu Stern, vice president of Java technologies for Sun Professional Services. Its offered now on a custom basis.

Related story:

  • Special JavaOne coverage