JAVAONE - Motorola seeks mobile unity

Motorola and Eclipse will use the JavaOne conference in San Francisco this week to unveil open source initiatives in mobile development and modeling, respectively.

Citing fragmentation in the JavaME (Java Platform, Micro Edition) world, Motorola will issue a call to unify mobile Java. The company will offer via open source its Java test framework and sample test cases (http://www.opensource.motorola.com/), with the goal of producing a more common, open environment for Java platforms.

Motorola also will develop under an open process a reference implementation and compliance test for Motorola-driven Java Specification Requests, such as the Mobile Information Device Profiles (MIDP) 3.0 specification.

By making test frameworks and test cases available via open source, Motorola is seeking development of a broader mobile and software ecosystem for Java, with the goal of yielding "write-once, run everywhere" implementation capabilities.

"What we're trying to do is foster a better ecosystem and solve a number of problems around interoperability," said Cherlyn Chin, corporate vice president for Mobile Devices at Motorola.

Currently, Java mobile development is governed by the Java Community Process, she said. "It's not truly open source," Chin said.

Under Motorola's plan, developers will be able to utilize MIDP3 without a license, said Mark VandenBrink, senior director and chief architect for Mobile Devices Software at Motorola.

By developing the reference implementation and test compliance kit in an open source fashion, Motorola hopes to increase commonality. Currently, a handset maker licenses a JSR from another company and then makes changes to the reference implementation to make it work on their phone. This is done over and over again, resulting in platform variations, according to Motorola.

"Today, we have multiple versions of Java [in the mobile space] because we have multiple companies implementing it in a different way. The real push in the industry is to get to a common platform," said VandenBrink.

Motorola is looking to lead an industry effort to unify Java on cell phones, but it is a bit of a gamble, said John Jackson, senior analyst at the Yankee Group.

"My take is that what Java has achieved in ubiquity on cell phones, it lacks in consistency," Jackson said.

"I think [Motorola is] trying to take some leadership and sort of throw down the gauntlet for other industry participants," Jackson said. However, by open sourcing its Java implementation, Motorola gives away its secret sauce to competitors, he said.

Also as part of its JavaOne rollout, Motorola is unveiling OpenSource.Motorola.com, an online resource for sharing source code, original open source projects, ideas, and information with open source developers globally.

The Eclipse Foundation, meanwhile, is announcing the unification of several modeling projects under a single, top-level project.

The open source tools organization also will announce that the Eclipse Plug-in Central (http://www.eclipseplugincentral.com/) community portal launched by three Eclipse member companies will now be under Eclipse jurisdiction.

The new Eclipse Modeling Project focuses on model-based development technologies within Eclipse. It unites existing projects under one umbrella to foster collaboration, unify direction, and improve interoperability.

"With that, the goal is to take a look at how we're currently structured and fill in any gaps that are there," said Richard Gronback, leader of top-level projects and a chief scientist at Borland Software.

Current modeling projects include:

-- Eclipse Modeling Framework, a modeling framework and code generation facility for building tools and applications based on a structured data model.

-- Graphical Modeling Framework, providing infrastructure and components for developing visual design and modeling surfaces.

-- Unified Modeling Language 2.0, providing an implementation of the UML 2.x metamodel for the Eclipse platform.

-- Generative Modeling Tools, which is a project to produce research tools in the area of model-driven development.

The Eclipse Modeling Project supports or expects to support standards including UML Model-Driven Architecture specifications, such as Query, View, Transformation (QVT), Human-Usable Textual Notation (HUTN), Object Constraint Language (OCL), MOF to Text (MOF2Text), and XML Metadata Interchange (XMI).

Vendors are able to build tools based on Eclipse technologies to encourage interoperability, Gronback said.

With EPIC, the intention is to promote an Eclipse ecosystem and provide a central portal to locate various Eclipse plug-ins and products, some of which are open source and others commercial.

There are currently about 1,200 Eclipse-based commercial products on the market, with about 500 listed in the EPIC database, said Ian Skerrett, Eclipse marketing director. Eclipse wants to have all products noted.

"This portal is [intended] to make it easier for users to find relevant, high-quality Eclipse plugins," Skerrett said.

EPIC was launched by Genuitec, Instantiations, and Innoopract. "What is new is that it is now part of the Eclipse Foundation," Skerrett said. This gives the portal the benefit of having Eclipse itself promote it, he said.

Also at JavaOne, IBM is announcing a partner initiative for IBM WebSphere Application Server Community Edition that is intended to help ISVs and systems integrators embed the Java application server into their solutions. The effort includes providing free sales, marketing, and technical support.

The Community Edition is a free download integrated with Apache Tomcat and commonly used open source components such as Web services, security, authentication, messaging, and Web tier clustering. It lacks some enterprise-level features, such as quality of service, however. IBM earns money on the Community Edition through sales of support and services.

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