Sun ships J2SE 1.5, explains Eclipse stand

Sun Microsystems has released a beta version of the much anticipated 1.5 version of the Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) -- code-named Project Tiger -- a set of specifications for developing Java applications for desktop computers. The beta release, available for download last Wednesday, includes updates that focus on ease-of-development, new application monitoring and management features, and what Sun calls a "continued focus on rich client support for the PC desktop." The final version is expected sometime in mid-2004.

Mark Bauhaus, VP of Sun's Java Web Services Group, characterized J2SE 1.5 as a "tremendous achievement for the Java development community," and called the new version a "key milestone in the Java technology roadmap.

"These Java programming language enhancements appeal to a broad variety of Java developers by harnessing the power of the Java platform and allowing developers greater to access it," he said.

J2SE is the technology underlying the Sun Java Enterprise System, the Sun Java Studio Enterprise tools and the Sun Java Desktop System offerings. Sun claims more than 110 million downloads of the J2SE SDK and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) since they were made available in December 1998.

New features in this beta release include generics, enumerated types, meta data and autoboxing of primitive types. The release also emphasizes such performance improvements as reduced startup time, a smaller memory footprint and Java Virtual Machine (JVM) auto-tuning. In addition, it features improvements that allow Java-based applications created on the J2SE 1.5 platform to be deployed into existing SNMP-based enterprise management systems. This later feature allows the JVM to be monitored and managed for higher levels of reliability, availability and serviceability.

The 1.5 version also includes the Java Management Extensions (JMX), which are designed to deliver out-of-the-box deployment to enterprise management systems that support JMX.

Not surprisingly, one of the first IDEs to support J2SE 1.5 is the NetBeans IDE, a Sun development tool spun off as an open-source offering. Written in Java, NetBeans is designed to support any programming language. A series of plug-in modules support other languages and technologies from C and C++ to XML, HTML and Java Server Pages. And it's free.

Sun disclosed the availability of the J2SE 1.5 beta during last week's EclipseCon conference in Anaheim, Calif., a surprise move as Sun has long called Eclipse -- an open-source platform for integrating software development tools, based on technology developed by IBM -- competitive to its own NetBeans toolset. In 2001, Big Blue turned Eclipse over to a consortium of vendors that created the non-profit Eclipse Foundation to control the technology.

Sun so far has declined to join the Eclipse Foundation, and last week went so far as to release an open letter to the group that read in part: "Sun bases all of its commercial tools products on the NetBeans open source IDE. The required mandatory transition to the Eclipse platform would inhibit development of innovative technologies like the Sun Java Studio Creator product (code-named Project Rave), and require a reconstruction of all of our existing tools. Any entry criteria requiring that Sun abandon the NetBeans open source platform directly conflicts with the concept of choice and diversity, the very bases that gave Eclipse its beginning. If this condition were to change, we would be happy to reconsider. In the meantime, it is worthwhile to explore how we (and others) can work with Eclipse to align in a way that benefits the strength of the Java platform as a whole, especially with the multi-partner community recently announced."

Sun Chief Technology Evangelist Simon Phipps put the situation more bluntly during his keynote at EclipseCon. "Sun won't use Eclipse because we've already spent so much investing in NetBeans," he said. "Sun doesn't intend to produce an Eclipse product any more than IBM intends to produce a product on NetBeans."

A beta version of NetBeans 3.6, Sun's Java tool development environment, will also be released to support J2SE 1.5, Phipps said.

J2SE 1.5 is being developed under the Java Community Process (JCP) as Java Specification Request (JSR) 176, which is led by Sun and a group of corporate and individual developers. The JSR recently won a unanimous vote in the JCP Executive Committee, making way for the beta program to officially open and accept participants immediately. For more information and to participate in the J2SE 1.5 beta program, visit

For more Eclipse news, go to ADT Eclipse Page

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].

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