Sun Releases Java Platform Standard Edition 6

Sun Microsystems unveiled the next generation of the core implementation of its Java platform this week. The Java Platform Standard Edition 6, available now to developers on the Sun Developer Network, pulls together a host of new features for Web services, dynamic language support, diagnostics, and desktop applications.

Java SE is the version of Sun's Java Platform intended for developing and deploying applications for desktops and servers. It comprises the Java Development Kit toolset, and a collection of Java APIs, the Java Hotspot Virtual Machine, and other components that make up the Java Runtime Environment. Java SE is the foundation for the Java Platform Enterprise Edition.

Two years in the making, this is Sun's first community-developed Java release, the result of a collaboration among Sun's engineers and more than 300 external developers who had access to weekly builds, says Jean Elliot, Sun's senior director of Java platform marketing.

"The source code and binaries were published weekly," Elliot explains, "giving the community a chance to test their applications against the evolving platform, report regressions, file bug reports, and submit fixes, many of which were implemented in this release. The collaboration was extensive."

Scripting Framework

Sun is spotlighting the Web 2.0 capabilities of this release, which was engineered to allow the mixing of Java technology with dynamic scripting languages, such as PHP, Python, Ruby, and JavaScript. Java SE 6 includes a scripting framework that supports third-party script engines implementing the JSR 223 Scripting APIs. It also includes a script engine based on Rhino, an open-source implementation of JavaScript written entirely in Java. Sun had created a set of scripting engines, available at

"In the past we've taken it on the chin a bit for being too Java-centric or not friendly enough to scripting," Elliot says. "I think this release will put to bed once and for all any doubts that it's a Java and scripting world—not either-or. This release gives developers the flexibility to leverage both scripting environments and Java."

Java SE 6 also comes with a full Web services client stack, and it supports such Web services specifications as JAX-WS 2.0, JAXB 2.0, STAX and JAXP. The Web services support underscores one of the most positive consequences of Sun's collaboration with Microsoft, Elliot says.

Working with Microsoft

Project Tango, part of the Glassfish Community, which builds free, open-source enterprise software, brought together Sun's Java Web services engineers and Microsoft's Windows Communication Foundation engineers to ensure interoperability of enterprise features, such as security, reliable messaging, and atomic transactions.

"One of the things that both Sun and Microsoft have agreed on is that we need to serve our mutual developers and customers very well," she says. "And many of them operate in a heterogeneous environment. We did a lot of work on Project Tango to make sure that the Java stack and the .NET stack interoperate. It's been a constructive collaboration that will ultimately benefit developers and our deploying customers."

The Java SE 6 release comes with an expanded toolset for diagnosing, managing, and monitoring applications. It includes new easy-to-use interfaces for the Java Virtual Machine and Java Platform Debugger Architecture. And it supports the new NetBeans Profiler 5.5 and the Solaris DTrace dynamic tracing framework for the Solaris 10 OS.

Sun is also touting improvements on the desktop and rich client fronts, which give developers the ability to deliver a better end-user experience. Java SE 6 includes a new layout manager component based on the NetBeans GUI Builder (formerly code named Matisse), for rapid visual development of interactive apps.

There's also enhanced support for the upcoming version of Windows Vista. "That's a non-trivial exercise," Elliot says. "We're not talking about any old Win32 app here. We're talking about working deep down at the operating system level. There was lot of work involved in getting all the networking, the security, the graphics, and all those gnarly things working right. That, again, is where the collaboration between our engineers and the folks up in Redmond becomes really important."

This release is being bundled with the Java DB, a 100 percent Java database, rooted in the Apache Derby Project. It's being included as a matter of convenience for developers, Elliot says.

Sun is reaching out to developers with some freebies around this release. As part of a special promotion, the company is offering 60 days of free, unlimited support for Java SE 6 through Sun Developer Expert Assistance. Along with the standard one-year Sun Java MultiPlatform (JMP) support for customers with heterogeneous computing environments, the company is offering new three-year subscription pricing for JMP. Sun Developer Network Program (SDN) members can also get a 10 percent discount on the new Java SE 6 technology-training course. Developers may join the SDN at no cost by registering online.

About the Author

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