The curtain rises at JavaOne today at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and newly appointed Sun Microsystems Inc. CEO Jonathan Schwartz makes his debut before the Java development community. Attendees can expect a lot of buzz and announcements around the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 5 specification just approved by the Java Community Process (JCP), and around hot topics like Ajax, SOA and open source.
But whether Sun will make a "blockbuster" announcement—like open sourcing Java—attendees will have to wait and see, said Joe Keller, vice president of marketing for SOA and Integration Platforms at Sun. "There will be open source announcements, but [attendees] will have to determine if it's 'blockbuster' or not," he said. "There will be a lot to do with SOA," he added.
"I have seen rumblings of will they/won't they open source Java, but they rise up every industry event;" said Shawn Willett, a principal analyst for application infrastructure at Current Analysis Inc. "It would be a positive move."
"It's clear something in this [open source] area is coming," said Bill Roth, vice president of the BEA Workshop Business Unit at BEA Systems Inc. "But I don't think they'll announce something like open sourcing Java." However, he said, "I think what we'll hear is a greater opening, and I think we will see a less combative approach. Jonathan is a very smart guy; and I think you'll see a new tone. It will be no less aggressive, but will be more an iron hand in a velvet glove approach."
Added Shaun Connolly, vice president of product management at JBoss Inc., making Java open source "would have a positive impact on the Java industry. It just gives more ability for people to innovate.."
With Schwartz now running the company, "it's at least plausible," said Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at Burton Group Inc. She added, "I do think they'll make a major announcement, but the big news is they just finalized EE 5."
Raising the curtain with JAVA EE 5
In fact, Sun's Keller called the approval of the Java EE 5 spec the actual "curtain raiser" for this year's JavaOne. Sun said it is the most significant update of the programming model since the launch of J2EE 1.2 in December 1999.
According to Keller, the improvements to Java EE 5 "radically simplify the programming model, especially for Web services. There is support for the latest technology for building out Web applications and building out SOA." The platform also takes advantage of Web 2.0 technology, he said. And Keller cited the significance of the JCP's work with the open source community, particularly Project GlassFish.
New Java EE 5 features include Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 3.0, supporting Plain Old Java Objects, which can easily be converted to Web services with annotations or made persistent using the new Java Persistence API. The Java Persistence API was jointly developed by Sun and Oracle and benefits from work done in Hibernate (an open source object/relational mapping project), TopLink (Oracle's Java object-to-relational persistence architecture) and Java Data Objects (developed under the Java Community Process).
Updated Web services include JAX-WS 2.0 and JAXB 2.0, which support the latest W3C and WS-I standards like SOAP 1.2, WSDL 1.1; protocol and transport independence; and the REST style of Web services. The 1.2 version of Java Server Faces (JSF) facilitates building Web 2.0 applications with Ajax. Java EE5 also incorporates extensive support for annotations, making it easier to deal with persistence, Web services, transactions and security, according to Sun.
"There are three things I'd point to as the poster child work of Java EE 5," said JBoss' Connolly. The first two are "EJB 3.0 and the incorporation of a simplified Java persistence API. You had Bill Burke our [JBoss] chief architect and Gavin King, founder of Hibernate, as coauthors of the EJB 3.0 spec." And in the Web services area, Connolly cited the Annotation capabilities, making it much easier to expose a Web service.
Making Java easier to use is key for developers, Connolly said—something Microsoft has done well. "Microsoft does decent care and feeding of its developers. It's important for the Java platform to make it easy, frankly. Kudos to Microsoft for helping drive some [of the simplicity improvements] by putting a flag in the ground, but the Java EE 5 platform really levels the playing field in terms of simplicity."
Java EE 5 also addresses some of the pressing needs of the enterprise, according to Willett. "The technologies in [Java EE 5] are little more urgent for the enterprise, mainly Web services, JAXB support, Java to Web services support," he said. "For that reason will be more of an uptake for Java EE 5 than for J2EE 1.4," the predecessor to the Java EE 5 platform. Willett also said that making the technology available early to the Java development community will help with adoption of this platform. "People are more ready for it because more people have seen it."
"As we move more to open source, you're seeing us develop our next versions in plain sight," said Sun's Keller. "GlassFish has now been up and running for a year. At JavaOne you will see the results of that project."
Keller also said to expect to hear more about Ajax from Sun at JavaOne, based on the work done on JSF. "The component model in JSF was created before Ajax. [In Java EE 5], we taught JSF to speak Ajax."
In addition, Sun will be laying out more of its SOA strategy as it relates to the SeeBeyond acquisition, Keller said. As an adjunct to JavaOne, Sun is hosting Horizons 2006, Sun's SOA & Composite Application Summit (the summit is a continuation of the annual SeeBeyond event). The summit will cover the newest developments with the Sun Java Composite Application Platform Suite (CAPS), formerly known as the SeeBeyond ICAN suite, the Sun Application Platform Suite, Portal and Identity Management. CAPS "is the starting point," Keller said. "Expect at JavaOne to hear the next step of the story."
Expected announcements From the Java community
JavaOne exhibitors will be introducing new products as well. Jason Bloomberg, senior analyst at ZapThink LLC, expects to hear a "Web 2.0 meets SOA story. "There's a panel that will talk about Web 2.0 and SOA and mashups. A mashup is essentially a SOBA with a governance framework." In addition, he said, "there is definitely a tie-in between Ajax and rich internet applications and SOA. Better tools for consuming services is a key part of the SOA story, especially as the number of available services starts to rise."
Bloomberg cited work in the rich client area being done by Nexaweb Technologies Inc., and ICESoft Technologies Inc.
Chris Erickson, CEO of ICESoft, said, "We think Ajax is the trend this year for JavaOne." At JavaOne ICESoft will be announcing ICEfaces Enterprise Edition, an Ajax framework, Erickson said. In April, the company released ICEfaces Community Edition. The Enterprise Edition "adds high-performance, scalability and clustering capabilities—industrial-strength features," Erickson said.
"The Enterprise Edition is their 'coming out' party," Bloomberg said. "Their Ajax technology is based on Java Server Faces, which is an interesting twist on this."
Unlike other Ajax frameworks, ICEfaces enables rich Web application features to be developed in pure Java, and in a pure thin-client model. There are no applets or proprietary browser plug-ins required, and ICEfaces applications are rendered as JSF applications.
For its part, BEA "may or may not have something to say" about Ajax at JavaOne, Roth said. "BEA feels Ajax is important and a technology our customers are asking for; however, Ajax is a maturing technology. You are going to see over the next 18 months a standardization that will work through the Ajax tools project at Eclipse."
What attendees will hear from BEA is more about the company's "blended" strategy, which mixes open source with commercial technology, "and how blended also means execution environment. Not everyone has WebLogic server," Roth said. Attendees will also hear more about Open JPA, an open source EJB 3.0 Persistence Engine. Also, Roth said, "The notion of dynamic languages is a hot topic. Wouldn't it be interesting if BEA showed some technology around some other language than Java, and the interplay between how a dynamic language and Java worked, and wouldn't it be interesting to show that cool stuff running on [BEA's] application server? Wouldn't that be interesting?"