Sun calls J2EE 1.4 a 'fusion of Java and Web services'

The official kickoff for J2EE 1.4, accompanied by the release of a free available J2EE Application Verification Kit (AVK), pre-announcements of J2EE 1.5, and the coming official release of the Java Studio Creator tool, is making for a busy spring at Sun Microsystems.

Sun is positioning J2EE 1.4 as a 'fusion of Java and Web services,' said John Loiacono, Sun's newly appointed EVP of software.

Sun has even called it the 'Web services release' because it includes support for the WS-I's Basic Profile conventions for interoperability; it also implements both the Java API for XML-based RPC (JAX-RPC) and the Enterprise Web services specification (JSR 109) in the Java Community Process (JCP).

Competing vendors of J2EE products joined with Sun to praise the capabilities in the third official release of the popular platform.

From BEA's perspective, the big news is the way 1.4 standardizes how Web services are developed and deployed on application servers, said Mike McHugh, BEA's VP of engineering for WebLogic Server. 'It focuses right on the portability of the services themselves,' he said. 'That's a key issue of our customer base, and we're all for it.'

For IBM's Mark Heid, program director for WebSphere, the excitement of the 1.4 release is in the plug-ability of connectors, especially for legacy systems. 'We have a long history of mainframes,' Heid said, alluding to the recently celebrated 40th anniversary of Big Blue's legendary System/360 mainframe, 'and 1.4 is now at a point where our customers can fully integrate their legacy systems as they pursue our SOA [Service-Oriented Architecture] vision.'

'The big innovation in J2EE 1.4 as far as we are concerned,' opined JBoss Group CEO Marc Fleury, 'is that Sun has finally come up with a model that is agreeable to everybody, where open-source implementers can now participate. I think it's a [testament] to the strength of this community that it can not only survive, but also thrive with the presence of pure open-source players. I'm very impressed that there is a model that includes open-source players, and that the model is stable. It's a good thing.'

Sun also disclosed plans to preview J2EE 1.5 during its annual JavaOne developer conference to be held June 28-July 1 in San Francisco. The 1.5 version is expected to include additional support for Web services and to build in more ease-of-use features. Also expected in 1.5 are annotations, persistence aspects and EJB 3.0.

Steve Wilson, Sun's director of engineering for the core developer platform in the Developer Platform Group, told JDT that the 1.5 preview will coincide with the official release of Sun's Java Studio Creator tool (formerly known as Project Rave). Creator is currently in an early access release and is available for download at , with more than 20,000 downloads so far, Wilson said. Sun expects to announce the full release of J2EE 1.5 in mid-2005.

In an effort to help application developers to 'help themselves,' Sun has released a free test kit designed to verify whether an application is J2EE-compatible. The J2EE Application Verification Kit (AVK) tests for the correct use of J2EE APIs across J2EE-compatible application servers, confirming that an application is portable across the multivendor J2EE-based app server environment, Sun officials said.

The J2EE 1.4 AVK, available for download at , includes a Web services testing feature for things like static checking for Web services endpoints, dynamic checking for both EJBs and servlet-based Web services, as well as source-code scanning functions for incompatible proprietary APIs that would cause interoperability challenges. It includes a feature for testing mapping assertions to the specification, enabling easy lookup. And it comes with ANT (an open-source build tool from the Apache Software Foundation), as well as some component libraries.

'One way in which developers seek to optimize resources is effective utilization of their existing infrastructure investment,' said Joe Keller, VP of marketing for Java Web services and tools at Sun. 'The J2EE 1.4 AVK enables developers to do just that, providing for easier application migration from one application server to another, increasing code reusability, eliminating the need to install and test across multiple application servers, and making multiple vendor environments not just feasible but efficient. Sun is proud to be the only company to deliver a product that offers these very practical, very effective results.'

About the Author

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


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