Java to get Web services, XML improvements

Sun Microsystems officials at the JavaOne conference in San Francisco on Monday presented road maps for the Java programming language, providing details on planned improvements such as boosts for Web services and XML.

First off, Sun is dropping the number "2" nomenclature in its Java names, said Graham Hamilton, a Sun vice president and fellow. Future releases will not be called "Java 2 Enterprise Edition." However, "we're not going to try to rename existing releases," Hamilton said.

The upcoming Java Standard Edition 6, code-named "Mustang," is due in 2006. It will feature ease of development, XML and Web-services enhancements, and desktop improvements, Hamilton said.

It will also feature a Web-services client stack, enabling clients to connect to Web services, Hamilton said. Moreover, Sun will include a revamped XML stack, a new scripting engine, and declarative programming support with this improvement.

An improved end-user experience will provide a Microsoft "Longhorn" look and feel. Longhorn is the next major upgrade to Windows. "You shouldn't look like Windows XP apps [when] running on Longhorn," Hamilton said

Core system improvements in Mustang include a simpler and faster code verifier and enhanced file I/O. Project Mustang is available in an early form at mustang.dev.java.net.

"Every week, we are publishing the complete source binary documentation for internal builds" of Mustang, Hamilton said.

Java Standard Edition 7, code-named "Dolphin," is due in early 2008. Sun is pondering features such as direct Java language support for XML, including XML manipulation, for this release, Hamilton said.

Also being considered are extended use of generics in the JMX (Java Management Extensions) API and use of annotations for writing MBeans.

Administration improvements also are being planned, including the packaging of Java technology code and resources into modules that identify resources and dependencies. XML Web services will be used for remote management of the platform with JMX API.

The Java Virtual Machine may be extended to support other languages, such as Groovy. Sun also is pondering ideas on using metadata in versioning and packaging.

In the enterprise version of Java, Sun is eyeing simplification for developers.

"[Java is] the industry standard for enterprise applications. But still, many developers find it difficult to get started with Java Enterprise Edition," said Bill Shannon, Distinguished Engineer at Sun.

Use of programs based on "Plain Old Java Objects" is planned, Shannon said. This elicited applause from the audience.

The upcoming Java Enterprise Edition 5 release will feature simplified Web-services support and more support of Web-services standards, Shannon said. A beta of Version 5 is due in the last quarter of this year, with the final release set for first quarter 2006.

Taking a page from Microsoft's planned Indigo Web-services technology, Java Enterprise Edition 5 will enable development of a Web service with only a few lines of code.

"We're making it much easier for you to write a Web service with Enterprise Edition 5," Shannon said.

Version 5 also resolves the conflict in object persistence methods that has been brewing between the Enterprise JavaBeans and Java Data Objects specifications. The new technology is based on a draft of EJB 3, Shannon said.

Java Specification Requests to be supported in Version 5 include JSR 52, pertaining to a standard tag library based on JavaServer Pages; JSR 173, for STAX, or Streaming API for XML; JSR 181, for Web services metadata; JSR 220, for persistence; JSR 222, for JAXB XML binding; JSR 224, for JAX-WS (Web Services); JSR 250, for common annotations, and JSR 252, for JavaServer Faces.

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