Suns Simplified Java Tool Takes Page from MS

The company said it's readying a "technical preview" of Project Rave for this quarter; Sun VP Joe Keller cited rival Microsoft's Visual Basic as an influence on Sun's rapid development tool. Keller also announced Java creator James Gosling's m

Sun Microsystems Inc. said it will soon deliver a "technical preview" of its development tool aimed at simplifying Java development for the masses.

During a Sun developer "chalk talk" Thursday, Joe Keller, Sun vice president of Java Web services, said the company will release a "technical preview" of the tool, known as Project Rave, that the Santa Clara, Calif., company introduced at its JavaOne conference in June. Sun has touted Project Rave as a rapid application development tool akin to Microsoft Corp.s Visual Basic. In fact, Sun had its developers study Visual Basic to a great extent while building the tool, Sun sources said.

"Were making sure the development paradigm in Java is as simple as that in VB," Keller said.

Keller said Sun will release a technical preview of Rave this quarter and will ship the product, under a different name, "in the middle of 2004, and well update the preview some time before that."

Keller said Rave has the advantage of scalability over Visual Basic and, because it produces standard Java code, its output is portable to different platforms.

"The rap on Java is that its been too hard for folks, but [so far] nobodys written the right kind of tool," he said.

Meanwhile, a Sun spokesman said Sun has included the Sun ONE Application Framework, formerly known by the codename JATO, in its Sun Java Studio Standard 5.1, which began shipping at the end of October. "It allows you to create and use components in a model view controller or pattern-driven development" scheme, the spokesman said.

Java Studio is based on Suns open-source NetBeans technology. Keller said Sun should be able to drive the adoption of NetBeans a lot now with its implementation of the new Java Enterprise System, formerly known as Project Orion, and the Java Studio Enterprise tool, formerly known as Orion Developer.

The Java Enterprise System, which features all of Suns key middleware technology, will ship at the end of November, Keller said.

In other news, Keller said Java creator and Sun vice president and fellow James Gosling has been named the chief technology officer of the Sun Developer Platforms.

Gosling had been leading a team of Sun researchers working on adding refactoring support to Suns Java tools, Keller said.

"James was working on what the implementation [of refactoring support] would be, and the team has moved from the lab to the tools group," he said.

Meanwhile, Keller addressed the issue of Sun joining the IBM Corp.-sponsored Eclipse effort to create a Java-based, open source application-development platform.

"The invitation came to us from the Eclipse group and were still looking at it," he said.

Keller noted that Sun would join the group primarily to support the Java developers that support Eclipse, and to try to promote a standard for a universal plug-in interface for Java.

"Our agenda would be to be a part of that community and make sure they pursue Java standards correctly," Keller said. He added that changing the name of the organization from Eclipse to something else "is one of the things weve asked them to do," because Eclipse was chosen as a name because it signified eclipsing Sun.

"Its not something we want to do—join a group whose name is an attack on us," Keller quipped.

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