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Tiger Stripes: Get Ready to Purr Over J2SE 5.0

Tiger, the next version of the J2SE SDK, features language improvements, better performance, better debugging and management, near-native GUI representation, and much more. We grab the Tiger by the tail and take a good look at what it has to offer.

t has been a little while since Java got a refresh, and with the Java Community Process churning out updates in the form of new JSRs by the hundred, it is high time that the standard or reference API got updated. Well, the time has come, and version 5.0 (codenamed 'Tiger') is currently in its second beta phase. Technically speaking, Tiger is the 1.5 version of Java, but Sun Microsystems announced at the 2004 JavaOne developers conference that this version would start fresh with a '5.0' number. You can download the beta from http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.5.0. This article will cover the major functional improvements and let you know what to expect from 'Tiger.'

The improvements to the API can be grouped into the following major themes:
  • Developer productivity
  • Scalability and performance
  • Monitoring and manageability
  • Improved desktop

Downloading and Installation
Figure 1. Custom Setup for JDK 5: As you might expect, the first part of the install process requires you to identify the portions to install.
Before I begin running through the specific features of the new version, I'll run through the process of unpacking and installing the download from Sun Microsystems. This section is based on an installation of beta 2 on a machine running Windows XP Service Pack 2. After accepting all relevant licenses, your first screen on the wizard is shown in Figure 1. It looks like a Microsoft Office installation.

Configure what you want to install (I chose everything) and hit Next; the installer launches, copying the files and setting up the relevant paths. It is painless and very straightforward. At the end, just when you are expecting the installation to be done, you get another dialog (see Figure 2). This is of course the JRE setup, but it was a little surprising to get a separate installation. Perhaps this is something that will go away upon release.

After installation, you'll have the JDK and the JRE installed, and a new Control Panel applet to boot. This applet is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 2. JRE Setup: You have to do a separate install approval screen in order to unpack the JRE.
Figure 3. Java Control Panel: When your installation is complete, you get a new Control Panel for configuring your Java VM.

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