Saturday, May 25, 2024

New Standard Java Spec Emerges

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In what is being called “the most significant enhancement to the
Java platform,” a consortium of Java-related companies launched the newest
version of the Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE).

As previously
, version 5.0 of the specification — also known as “Project
Tiger” — is the basis for developing portable applications for the server
or desktop. The platform and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) are now
available for download with 105 new features including generics, enumerated types,
metadata and autoboxing of primitive types for easier and faster coding.

The update also supports C-style formatted input/output, variable
arguments, concurrency utilities and a simpler RMI (Remote Method
Invocation) interface generation, new JVM (Java Virtual Machine) monitoring,
management API and a new (but compatible) default Java look.

Calvin Austin, the J2SE 5.0 spec leader, said his team is expecting almost
immediate adoption of this version because of the overwhelming number of
beta downloads. Over the course of both beta phases for the release, Sun
Microsystems reported more than a half million downloads of the Java Runtime
Environment and Software Development Kit (SDK).

“This is an illustration of how far a community can go when it works
together,” Calvin Austin, J2SE 5.0 spec lead and Sun senior engineer told “Of the things that proved we were listening to the
community is the start up time feature, which helps the desktop users and
notification of low memory in the system, which was one of the biggest
requests by server users.”

In a conference call with reporters, the JCP said it is already working on J2SE v.6.0 or “Project Mustang.” Graham Hamilton, vice president, Sun fellow and lead architect for J2SE 5.0 said the next release should come out in 2006.

“The plan is to continue with the early access drops. Developers really appreciated that they could get advanced parts of the code in the Tiger release,” Hamilton said. “The theme for Mustang is pretty much the same as for Tiger — quality, XML Web services.”

The Java Community Process spearheaded the nine-year effort along with
160 expert members including 18 members on JSR 176 alone. The support list
includes a Who’s-Who of the Java world, including the Apache Software
Foundation, Apple Computer, BEA Systems, Borland Software Corporation, Cisco
Systems, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Macromedia, Nokia Corporation,
Oracle, SAP AG, SAS Institute, SavaJe Technologies and host company Sun

Stephen O’Grady, a senior analyst with market research firm RedMonk, said
Java-centric ISVs are likely to be excited about the platform improvements,
but more important is that developers get excited.

“There are a lot of Java developers out there, and Tiger gives Java an
opportunity to get many of them excited about the language again,
particularly at the desktop level,” O’Grady told

To help foster that desktop development, the new spec features support
for hardware acceleration via OpenGL for Linux and Solaris systems. Another
key focus for the new platform release is that J2SE 5.0 applications can fit
right into existing SNMP-based enterprise management systems.
“The only thing administrators would need to recompile for is the language,”
Austin said.

“Of all of the potential improvements and upgrades that Tiger involves —
including an update to the Java language — I think performance is the area
most important to the release,” O’Grady said. “Java’s gotten heat for years
on its relative performance, particular for the initial instantiation of an
application, and this update is specifically designed to address that

But O’Grady also points out that J2SE by itself is certainly an
opportunity for Sun to further propagate Java into current as well as green
field markets, but even on the client side its one asset amongst many, such
as J2ME.

“Ultimately, Sun’s futures in my view will likely be more influenced by
the payoff from its disruptive pricing and packaging efforts with enterprise
hardware and software,” he said.

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