Sun Microsystems Inc. will advance Java to the next level this week, while simultaneously reaching out, yet again, to new developers and the open-source community.
At its annual JavaOne conference in San Francisco, Sun will introduce tools, technologies, alliances, strategies and open-source initiatives, all aimed at making Java easier to use in the enterprise.
Sun will begin the show with the release of Java Standard Edition 5.0, which Joe Keller, the companys vice president of Java Web services, called “the biggest change of the language since its invention” almost 10 years ago.
Java Standard Edition 5.0, also known as Java 2 Standard Edition 1.5, or “Tiger,” offers new language features, including support for generic types and metadata, as well as improved performance and startup time.
Also new is a smaller footprint, the ability to tune performance for developers, support for Java Management Extensions, a profiling API and enhanced security, Keller said. The platform is expected to ship this summer.
Sun will also officially release its Java Studio Creator tool, previously known as Project Rave. At last years JavaOne, the company announced the technology, which simplifies J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) development so that less sophisticated developers can create Java applications.
This week, the Santa Clara, Calif., company will also announce the first customers of Java Studio Creator.
In yet another effort to bolster its Java developer ranks, Sun will give away a new Opteron-based server to developers who sign on for three years to the Sun Java Studio Enterprise subscription program, said John Fowler, executive vice president of Suns Network Systems group.
“Were focused on getting a volume of developers in lots of different ways. Im focusing on producing a lot of hardware to amplify our software,” Fowler said.
Sun will also upgrade the Java Studio Enterprise tool set, adding UML (Unified Modeling Language) support, and will preview the Enterprise Edition of Java 5.0, previously known as Java 2 Enterprise Edition 1.5.
On the open-source front, Sun will roll out a new version of its NetBeans open-source development platform. NetBeans 4.0 will add technology culled from Java creator James Goslings Jackpot project, which was developed in Suns labs.
Despite NetBeans and Suns plans to turn its next-generation Linux desktop, “Project Looking Glass,” over to the open-source community, some said the company is still not doing enough.
“Suns efforts have been inconsistent, tentative and poorly managed,” said Eric Raymond, an independent Internet developer and open-source guru in Malvern, Pa. “Sun has used open source tactically [funding OpenOffice.org, for instance] but has yet to cope strategically with the fundamental challenge to its proprietary business model.”
Other developers agree that a Sun-based open-source product would be better late than never.
“So far, Sun has given the [open-source] world some stellar products,” said Bruce Snyder, senior software engineer at DigitalGlobe Inc., a satellite imagery and information company located in Longmont, Colo. “I dont believe that Sun needs to maintain any credibility with the [open-source] community. With respect to open-sourcing Java, I think that the Java community will force Suns hand here.”