Putting Java in ONE Cup

Sun Microsystems may not totally control Java, but it is pole positioning to bring J2SE, J2ME, J2EE and JavaCard languages under one umbrella and into the mainstream. A New Focus on J2ME Compliance

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sun Microsystems Tuesday launched its most aggressive campaign to put its Java programming language in the public consciousness.

Speaking at the Java ONE conference here, the network computer maker said it would try to unify the various flavors of Java under one brand complete with an updated logo that will identify PCs, servers, handsets, mobile devices and smartcards as being "Java Powered". The company also launched two Web sites (java.net and java.com) as a go-to place for people to get more information about the cross-platform language.

"What we need to do is have all these Java languages combine into one architecture, and to do that we have to build one network," Sun Executive Vice President of Software Jonathan Schwartz. "What we need is Java compatibly, compatibly, compatibly, compatibly."

Since its launch eight years ago, Java has had four major incarnations: J2SE (standard for desktops), J2EE (enterprise applications), J2ME (mobile devices) and JavaCard. Sun said its plan includes two basic levels of change. One is through the Java Community Process (JCP) to make sure the programming languages interoperate freely and openly; the other is through a system of weeding out vendors with non-inclusive platforms.

The problem had become so big that, Sun had to streamline the JCP a few weeks ago to fend off criticism that Java as a standard was becoming more fragmented partly due to a very complicated and confusing approval process for specs. Currently, the JCP is made up of 661 members including some of Sun's best allies and even some of its fiercest competitors.

Already, Sun has begun the process by meshing J2SE and J2EE as well as J2ME and J2EE through a host of Java Specification Requests (JSR), although the company concedes it is not in total control of its own language.

"Democracies are a little more involved than dictatorships," Schwartz said. "But without diversity there is no innovation and innovation creates a general market opportunity."

The company said it is currently supporting a handful of JSRs it says will help simplify the Java brand. Among those being considered are: JSR127 - Java Server Faces; JSR175 - Java Language Metadata; JSR220 - EJB 3.0; JSR223 - Scripting language support; JSR224 - JAX-RPC 2,0; JSR185 - Java tech for the wireless industry

As testimony to its simplicity theme, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company Tuesday launched its Project Rave initiative. As previously reported, the new tools are targeted at both the knowledgeable code writer as well as the casual corporate developer for building compatible applications.

"Fundamentally, the idea is to do JSPs and visual presentations without tremendous levels of knowledge of Java itself," said Sun Chief Technology Officer of Software John Fowler

(Editor's note: An exclusive Q&A with John Fowler is currently available.)

Despite combining the different Java flavors into one homogenous brand, Sun is still developing each individually for developers. The company said it is close to releasing its J2EE 1.4 is WS-I basic profile so it can be the first to market to do Web services. A second beta of the spec was released Monday.

On the desktop, Sun said its latest version of J2SE (1.4.2) fixed about 4,814 bugs over its previous incarnation. The programming language is compatible with Windows XP, Linux GTK, Mac OS Aqua and will soon be available for Synth. The company is currently working on J2SE 1.5 (Tiger) and J2EE 1.5 and expects to ship them on June 26.

Another opportunity to expand the Java brand is in wireless, the company said this week.

Tuesday announced it will work with the world's leading cellular phone manufacturers on common testing criteria to certify compliance with the J2ME with support for the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 2.0 specification .

"We're a $13 billion company. The way we get to $20 billion is to get more people using Java phones," Schwartz said.

The company also announced Monday that it will tweak its Java platform to run specifically on devices using Intel XScale processors.

Company officials are not taking the branding issue lightly. The company confirmed that Sun and its Java partners will spend more than $500 million on "Java Powered" advertising featuring pop star Christina Aguilera.






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