Oracle Submits New API Spec to the JCP

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Developing tools for the Java language is no piece of cake, as developers and third-parties are required to write separate add-ins for their tools to work with each Java tool vendors' Integrated Development Environment. The presence of so many players writing programs using their own products doesn't make this task any easier and it gets complex and confusing.

To assuage the pain of software developers, Oracle Corp. Tuesday it said it has submitted a new Application Programming Interface (API) specification designed to facilitate the creation of extensions that are fully interoperable with any Java Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

According to Ted Farrell, architect and director of Strategy, Application Development Tools Division at Oracle, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based software maker devised and submitted the interface to the Java Community Process (JCP) after receiving a number of calls for a solution from developers at conferences.

"Developers would say 'when are you going to consolidate and give me a break'," Farrell told internetnews.com. "We've come up with something neutral."

The establishment of this new API as a standard will enable developers to write Java tool extensions once that can integrate with any other standards-based Java IDE. The new JSR API is based solely on Java technology standards, including Abstract Windowing Toolkit (AWT) and Swing for creating graphical user interface (GUI) application components, such as buttons and dialogs.

What are the benefits of this? Farrell said the recommended spec will ease time and the cost of development spent writing code.

Analysts supported the submission.

"Defining a standard way to extend any Java development environment with new functionality will speed time to innovation in the application development industry," said Gartner analyst Mark Driver. "Now third party tool vendors and the open source community can easily integrate their offerings with the major vendors' development tools."

Farrell said such organizations as Eclipse and Borland push for developers to write to their platforms, but these don't always cut it. Farrell wasn't denigrating Eclipse. In fact, he said Oracle joined the Eclipse board of stewards. Oracle will work to provide extensions to Eclipse to help users write to its application server and database

"There is a lot of hype about Eclipse wanting to be the de facto standard," Farrell said. "Oracle doesn't believe that. We believe a number of users will pick Eclipse, but it doesn't cover everything. We don't want to compete along the lines of the interface, but we'll compete on implementation and innovation." That is where APIs such as the one built for the JCP come into play.

Mark Herring, senior director of marketing, Sun ONE Java Web services and tools, Sun Microsystems, said vendors need to work together to determine how interfaces will look and feel.

"This is an area where we have been lagging as far as tools, but we have the interoperability for app servers, Herring told internetnews.com. "Companies innovate at different speeds. This is a situation where Sun and Oracle said 'we should have a standard way of doing this instead of going after partners separately'. For the developers, they have to look at a platform and decide if they'll choose everything or nothing. For the ISVs, they have one API to implement. Hopefully, we'll get more partners."

Herring said Sun is confident more partners, such as Eclipse and Borland, will eventually join.

Vendors Sun Microsystems, Macromedia, and JetBrains have lined up to support the submission of this Java Specification Request (JSR) 198 -- The Standard Extension API for Integrated Development Environments.

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