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Sun unleashes Tiger

Sun Microsystems last week released the long-awaited overhaul of the Java 2 Standard Edition. Sun is calling J2SE 5.0, code name 'Project Tiger,' the most significant upgrade of the Java platform and programming language in nearly a decade.

J2SE is a set of specifications used primarily to develop Java applications for desktop computers. It is the technology underlying the Sun Java Enterprise System, the Sun Java Studio Enterprise tools and the Sun Java Desktop System offerings. Version 5.0 comes with significant architectural changes and an up-to-date GUI for a more modern look and feel for Java apps.

During a conference call with reporters and analysts, Sun VP Graham Hamilton, who served as lead architect on Tiger, outlined six themes of this release: quality, performance and scalability, monitoring and management, the desktop client, ease of development and support for XML.

Enhancements in this release echo those themes. They include features designed to speed coding, such as generics, enumerated types, meta data and autoboxing of primitive types. It also emphasizes such performance improvements as reduced start-up time, a smaller memory footprint and JVM autotuning. And it features improvements that allow Java-based applications created on the J2SE 5.0 platform to be deployed into existing SNMP-based enterprise management systems. This feature allows the JVM to be monitored and managed for higher levels of reliability, availability and serviceability.

Other features include full internationalization support; support for hardware acceleration via the OpenGL API for Linux and Solaris; and performance improvements, such as faster start-up time, a smaller memory footprint and JVM autotuning.

The latest version of J2SE was developed under the Java Community Process as Java Specification Request 176. (5.0 is its external version number; 1.5.0 is its internal version number.) It is considered one of the largest projects ever developed under the JCP, comprising 15 JSRs, involving the work of nearly 160 expert JCP members, and resulting in more than 100 new features.

Companies participating in the J2SE 5.0 expert group include Apache Software Foundation, Apple Computer, BEA Systems, Borland, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu Limited, HP, IBM, Macromedia, Nokia, Oracle, SAP AG, SAS Institute, SavaJe Technologies and Sun Microsystems.

The JCP is already working on the next upgrade, J2SE 6.0, code name 'Project Mustang,' Sun's Graham says. That release is expected sometime in 2006.

The J2SE 5.0 platform and Java Runtime Environment are now available for download at http://www.java.sun.com/j2se/1.5.0/download.jsp. For more information on Java, visit the Sun Developer Network at http://www.sun.com/developers .

About the Author

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

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