Sun Lets Third Parties Shine at JavaOne
A dearth of news from Sun Microsystems puts the limelight on third-party partners at the outset of JavaOne.
By Lori Piquet, Editor-in-chief
San Francisco (June 4, 2001)—
A morning keynote that started 30 minutes late and left thousands of attendees queued up around the block on a warm San Francisco morning finally got into swing around 11 a.m. Well, sort of. It was another hour yet again before anybody said much of import.
Keynote co-emcee John Gage, Chief Science Officer, finally got the ball rolling with some less-than-jaw-dropping "announcements," including the fact that 280 technical sessions would be uploaded to the JavaOne site with streaming audio translations of the content in Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese. Impressive to be sure, but probably not what I would have led the show with.
He was quickly joined by his emcee partner Jon Kannegaard, Vice President and Deputy Director of Sun Labs. The two men proceeded to run through the various freebies and contests being sponsored at the show. The edges of 17,000 filled seats were notably unused.
Sun, it seems, is quite content this year to let the brightest part of the spotlight shine on its partners—based on how they focused the morning program. Upon taking the stage from Gage and Kannegaard, Sun President and COO Ed Zander began the dog-and-pony show.
Not that there wasn't some great technology being showcased. Many of those invited to the stage gave promising—though not show-stopping—demonstrations of Java technology in use on handheld devices. There was also fanfare around the debut of Sony's Linux-based PS2 machine that highlighted its capability as a Net-connected consumer storage and media playback device in addition to its well-known prowess as a gaming platform.
Sun Does Web Services
Eventually, Sun sent out a flare. Not surprisingly, the important news of the day surrounds Web services. Java Software Division Vice President Rich Green told the assembly that Sun is announcing today that the next version of the J2EE platform will concentrate on supporting Web services. Green credited the work of the Java Community Process for driving the direction of the development of this highest-functioning Java platform.
But even this news seemed hardly newsworthy. With Microsoft's Web services strategy now well known and highly debated, it's sort of incumbent upon Sun to follow suit. Not moving forward aggressively with Web services support in J2EE would leave Java developers high and very dry come next year.
Still, the rollout details and specifics of the initial support features are worth mentioning:
- J2EE 1.4 will be the first fully functioning Java platform for building Web services sometime in 2002.
- Its predecessor, J2EE 1.3, is under public review now and will be released in Q3 2001. It includes increased support for XML but far less than the full Web services support planned for version 1.4.
- In the interim, Sun will release the Web Services Pack, a standalone version of the functionality planned for J2EE, that developers can begin using right away for building Web services.
- Five major Java tools vendors were noted for their commitment to integrating the Web Services Pack technologies (see next paragraph) in their IDEs. They are Oracle (JDeveloper), WebGain (WebGain Studio), Macromedia (JRun Studio), Borland (JBuilder), and Sun's Forte tools division.
The Web Services Pack will include the following:
JavaServer Faces: a standard API for creating standard graphical user interfaces for Web-based apps in Java. These enhance the capabilities of JSPs and let developers use standard GUI components instead of building and maintaining their own user interfaces for Java apps.
The JAX Pack: a set of Java APIs for XML. The APIs in the JAX Pack will process and transform XML documents and data, and allow for access to XML registries such as UDDI, mapping of XML data into Java objects, and SOAP messaging.
Tomcat: the open-source application platform from the Apache Software Foundation, which uses JSP and servlet technologies.
These components should give developers a bit of a springboard toward Web services rather soon.
I was still left wondering whether Sun shouldn't have said a bit more today.
Sightings on the Show Floor
I always look for the biggest human knot at the smallest booth on the show floor. That rule of thumb has always worked for me. Today it was a company called SavaJe, pronounced "savage" (complicatedly concocted by spelling "Java" backwards and sandwiching that with an S and e for "Standard Edition"). Just this morning they announced their technology: a handheld operating system that can run full J2SE applications on PDAs. That's not a typo—they really mean Java 2 Standard Edition apps on handhelds. Thus far, the SavaJe OS is only available for two devices—the Compaq iPAQ and the Psion NetBook.
You have to strip off Windows CE and then install the SaveJe operating system, but with that done, you may suddenly find yourself with the perfect handheld—one that comes with nothing but pure Java desktop apps (including a browser and shell, PIM, games, and more) but that also runs all your own J2SE client-side Java apps.
SavaJe XE is in beta now. CEO George Grey told me he was hoping for lots of feedback on the beta and to get a foothold at bundling his OS among some of the popular handheld hardware manufacturers. He hopes to release a shipping version before the end of 2001.
Judging by the knot of people and the nodding heads, this idea looks like one that the Java audience was eager for. Go ahead...download the beta.