Sun Shines on Mobile and Embedded Community

Q&A: Sun Microsystems says its community efforts in the mobile and embedded space are paying off.

Terrence Barr, technical evangelist for the Java Mobile & Embedded Community at Sun Microsystems, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Darryl K. Taft to discuss Suns community efforts in the mobile and embedded space.

Since Suns launch of the Mobile & Embedded Community last year, what has been happening with the community? How many members are there? How many projects?

We have accomplished a great deal in the past year—the code is out and actively being developed in the open. Were seeing good growth rates in the Mobile & Embedded Community and a steady increase in adoption of the open-source Java ME [Micro Edition] code in a number of areas across the mobile and embedded ecosystem. The number of registered community members currently stands around 500 and the community is likely hundreds of participants larger because accessing the open-source code and the forums does not require an explicit registration. There are currently more than 80 projects in the Mobile & Embedded Community with seven projects sponsored by Sun and the rest driven by the community.

What are some of the key projects?

The Java ME implementations of the CLDC/MIDP [Connected Limited Device Configuration/Mobile Information Device Profile] stack, called phoneME Feature, as well as the CDC/FP/PBP [Connected Device Configuration/Foundation Profile/Personal Basis Profile] stack, called phoneME Advanced, are certainly key projects of the Mobile & Embedded Community. Testing tools and frameworks, called cqME and JTHarness, have been core projects from the beginning. Since the re-launch of the ME Application Developers Project at JavaOne, the project has seen significant interest and growth both in terms of content as well as downloads. Other noteworthy projects are Project Orbit, which is an OpenLazlo runtime for Java ME; HD Cookbook, which is a repository of code for the Blu-ray platform and interactive TV platforms such as MHP [Multimedia Home Platform] and OCAP [OpenCable Application Platform]; the iLabs Mobile Toolbox by the Norwegian carrier Telenor; and many more.

How are people contributing and participating within the community?

We have already received a number of contributions, such as documentation and code contributions to key projects including phoneME and the ME Application Developers Project. In addition, we have received entire projects with code contributions to the Mobile & Embedded Community. We are also currently seeing the depth and breadth of contributions growing steadily.

Who are some of the contributors that are starting to engage within the community?

We have started the "Community Stars" program to recognize noteworthy members of the community. You can see a full list at:

There have been recent reports claiming that Sun is moving away from Java ME. Can you elaborate on this?

The best explanation on this comes from James Gosling in his recent blog post, where he states: "The early versions of JavaME were very simple and limited—a direct reflection of the fact that early phones themselves were simple and limited: we had to work with what we had. But as time has passed, and cell phones have become more powerful and capable, JavaME has grown up too. Cell phones are becoming the new desktop. Weve been saying this for years. Over time, its pretty clear that Java ME and Java SE will converge and become largely indistinguishable. It goes both ways: Java SE has a much more sophisticated graphics API, and Java ME is growing there. Java ME has a location API (GPS) and one could easily make the argument that it should be available in Java SE. This is a process of evolution, not out with the old, in with the new."


Click here to read more about Java ME.

Just consider some of the activity I described earlier happening within the Mobile and Embedded community, and the exciting new applications being developed for Java ME, including such leaders as Google Maps for Mobile, and its easy to see that Java ME remains a core part of the Java Platform, with significantly more than two billion devices including a Java ME implementation.

How do people get involved with the Mobile & Embedded Community?

In general, people get drawn to the community through community member blogs and/or through links to our community home page. Good starting points are also the forums, which offer a number of interesting discussions and topics. Once people learn more about what is going on in the community and what is there, they should start looking at the code and try to run it. From that point on, people can start making code contributions or leverage the code for their own ideas and projects.

Additionally, the Mobile & Embedded Community is hosting the Java Mobile & Embedded Developer Days Conference Jan. 23-24, 2008, at the Sun Santa Clara campus in California. The conference will feature James Gosling as a keynote speaker and is devoted solely to the technologies of mobile and embedded Java platforms. It is targeted for application developers of intermediate and advanced skill levels, platform developers, and technical personnel at tool vendors, OEMs and carriers. Content areas are expected to include the traditional phone and PDA development on the Java ME platform as well as Sun SPOT [Small Programmable Object Technology] wireless sensors, Trackbot and Java robotics, and other small Java systems used in machinery and process control but centered around Java, JavaME, and open-source aspects of Java. Registration is open, so we encourage people to begin signing up.


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