Sun's JavaOne Warmup

JavaOne 2006, the 11th annual gathering of Java jocks in the City by the Bay, is very nearly upon us (it runs May 16-19 in San Francisco's Moscone Center). Sun Microsystems, the show's sponsor and organizer, and Java's éminence grise, assembled a contingent of its execs and partner reps at the Menlo Park campus this afternoon to warm up reporters and analysts for the show.

The big news of the day: The Java Community Process (JCP) has approved the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5 specification. Okay, so it wasn't exactly news. The JCP voted on and approved JSR 244 on Monday night, passing unanimously the final spec of the platform. Still, this is a big deal, and you gotta love the timing. Sun's new CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, is downright deft at deflecting all those when-will-Java-be-open-sourced questions, but I'm guessing he'll be glad to have Enterprise Java to talk about at the show.

Or will he? Will Schwartz, who led the move to open-source Solaris, be the man, finally, to open-source Java?

Who knows? The rumor machine is screaming so loudly right now that I can't hear myself think. But that's not news, either. I'm having a hard time remembering a JavaOne that wasn't preceded by open-source rumors.

The for-crying-out-loud-just-open-source-Java-already contingent appears to have glommed onto two things this year: One is Glassfish, the 1100-member open-source community, started last year by Sun, which is developing an open-source app server that implements Java EE 5. Glassfish is one of a variety of community-based projects hosted on java.net. And, in Sun's words, it's part of ''a larger effort by Sun to release major portions of its code into open source for use and improvement by the community.''

The other is that open letter from former Sun exec Peter Yared, now CEO of ActiveGrid, posted on his blog, nagging Schwartz to open-source Java. My favorite passage: ''Can you guys let go a bit and let us all share a single, open source virtual machine? It would be good for Java, good for LAMP, and good for customers. Combining two of the three leading development platforms would make them both more competitive against .Net.''

Yared makes a good, albeit whiny, point, but Schwartz doesn't look like the kind of guy who responds well to kvetching, so I wouldn't expect the letter to mean much. Glassfish is more significant, as are the rivulets trickling out of Sun suggesting that there's a real internal debate over Java's fate, and that Schwartz is listening.

Here's what I know for sure: Java EE 5 represents a much-needed, major revamp of the enterprise Java programming model, which was actually started last year with the introduction of Java SE 5, which introduced a number of ease-of-dev features that Java EE is set to take advantage of. Those improvements, Sun's Joe Keller said, will ''radically simplify'' the Java EE programming model, especially for Web services, the Web tier, and transactional components. He added: ''The platform continues to evolve to support the latest technologies for building out Web apps, implementing SOAs, and taking advantage of the new features around Web 2.0-types of technologies that are becoming popular.''

And that's very good news.

More later on the upcoming JavaOne show.

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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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