Reporter's Notebook: Key Developments At JavaOne
Red Hat and Microsoft loom large as thousands of developers ponder the future of Java at annual meet last week.
With Oracle Corp.'s pending acquisition of Sun Microsystems looming large, last week's annual JavaOne Conference was perhaps more sedate than in years past. But with 15,000 in attendance, the annual gathering of the Java faithful was, nonetheless, replete with product and technology announcements and a forum for discussion for the future of the platform.
In addition to Oracle and Sun, which respectively talked up JavaFX and launched a Java app store, Red Hat and Microsoft made moved to show they will continue to embrace Java.
Red Hat launched its new application platform architecture, dubbed ''JBoss Open Choice." By separating the apps from the Java frameworks they run on, the new platform gives developers a single environment for deploying various programming models, said Craig Muzilla, VP of Red Hat's middleware group. The new platform will ''redefine the use of Java in the enterprise,'' Muzilla said at a press conference announcing the launch.
The thrust of the new-platform strategy is that it will allow developers to choose the framework, language, and programming technologies best suited for application requirements. That's because the Java-based JBoss app server will now interoperate more easily with competing technologies, such as the Spring and Struts frameworks, the Seam development environment, and Google's Web Toolkit.
Red Hat is among the founders of the Apache Stonehenge project -- along with WSO2, Progress Software, and Microsoft -- which figured prominently in Microsoft's first-ever JavaOne keynote. The Stonehenge project aims to develop a set of sample applications for services oriented architectures that demonstrate ''seamless interoperability'' across multiple platforms by using via W3C and OASIS standard protocols.
A .NET Play at JavaOne
Speaking for the Redmond Software giant, Microsoft's senior director Steven Martin opened his keynote address saying: ''We come in peace.''
Martin and Dan'l Lewin, Microsoft's VP of strategic and emerging business development, looked to convince attendees with Redmond's interoperability message. ''If we are not interested in interoperability, we know developers and customers will vote with their feet. It's something we think is critically important as we go forward,'' Martin said.
Microsoft and Sun have actually worked together on a several initiatives over the past five years, Lewin and Martin pointed out. The two companies have collaborated on virtualization, Web single sign on, Sun's OpenSSO Enterprise federation, and Microsoft's SAML-based ''Geneva'' Server project.
Martin, along with Greg Leake, a director in Microsoft's Connected Systems Division, demonstrated its .NET rewrite of IBM's Java-based StockTrader app, which Microsoft contributed to Stonehenge. The demo showed developers how they can interoperate with Web services by connecting an ASP.NET Web front end to business services and order processing services running in .NET, or the Metro Web Service (Java) stack on the Sun GlassFish Enterprise App Server, as reported last week in RDN Express.
Aisling MacRunnels, Sun's VP of application platform software marketing, joined Martin on stage to announce that Sun is contributing its Metro-based StockTrader code to the Apache Stongehenge project. ''We've made a huge amount of progress,'' MacRunnels said, in reference to Sun's work with Microsoft.
Java App Store Debuts
For its part, Sun officially unveiled its new Java App Store at the show. The online app outlet, currently in beta, will provide developers of mobile JavaFX-based rich Interment applications (RIAs) a means to distribute and sell their wares, explained Sun Fellow James Gosling during his keynote demo. Gosling and Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz demo'd two application: the free online role-playing game RuneScape and a JavaFX-based Twitter client called Twitter FX.
They also previewed a new developer portal, the Java Warehouse, which Gosling said would become the central repository for Java and JavaFX applications. Developers pay a $50 fee to register their applications for distribution through the Java Store.
The Java App Store is expected to launch publicly at the end of this year, but Sun is inviting developers to join a free trial beta program of the Java Warehouse Developer Portal now.
Sun also launched version 1.2 of its JavaFX platform for RIA development. In addition to Windows XP, Vista and the Mac OS, the new version now runs on the Linux and OpenSolaris operating systems.
The headline news at this year's show was the appearance at the opening keynote of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, but the man Sun co-founder Scott McNealy introduced as ''the next leader of the Java community'' did little more than reassure conference attendees that his company would stand behind the language and platform.
''Ellison made clear statements of support for Java, JavaFX, and OpenOffice,'' said Jonathan Eunice, industry analyst for Illuminata. ''He didn't speak about the other parts of Sun, but the enthusiasm of his support for what would be considered Sun's more speculative projects (eg, JavaFX or OpenOffice) is pretty positive for Sun's assets.''
IDC analyst Al Hilwa saw Ellison's support of those assets as promising. ''I think it is important for Oracle to be visible here, even though all is up in the air until the acquisition closes,'' he said. ''Java has a lot of assets on the client, mostly underutilized today. JavaFX, for example, is barely out the door and doesn't have anywhere near the traction that Adobe Flash has. Larry is going to have to think really hard about how much he wants to get into the client side.''
What's Next for the JCP?
One question still circulating at the conference after the keynote centered on how Ellison's de facto leadership of the Java community might impact the Java Community Process (JCP). The JCP is the Sun-lead organization that applies a formal process to the evolution of the Java platform.
''Oracle is not going to enjoy as much control over Java as Sun has had,'' said Rod Johnson, CEO of SpringSource and outspoken critic of the JCP. ''In reality, Sun's control has been eroded over the last few years, but I suspect that Oracle won't inherit even that level of control, because of the rise of open source. We've seen the steady transition of leadership by Sun to open source, and that's just going to continue to accelerate.''
IBM Lays Low
Ironically the company that was close to acquiring Sun, IBM had a lower profile than usual at this year's JavaOne, opting to make no major announcements.
However Craig Hayman, VP of IBM's WebSphere and Software groups, did talk up Big Blue's contribution to Java and the JCP in a general session on extreme transaction processing and elasticity.
"IBM is sort of painted as the Big Bad Blue," Hayman said. ''But what we do is contribute open source code... into the open source community, which has lead to us helping to foster many standards, including Apache."
Hayman pointed to IBM's participation in the Apache Harmony project, which began in 2005. The Java SE-based project aims to produce "a large and healthy community of those interested in runtime platforms" to create "a compatible, independent implementation of the Java SE 5 JDK under the Apache License v2."