Sun's Brewin toasts Java

Robert Brewin is a newly appointed co-CTO of software at Sun Microsystems. Tackling the application platform side of Sun software, Brewin is focusing on technologies such as Java, developer tools, Web services, and Web 2.0. The other co-CTO, Tim Marsland, keys in on technologies such as Solaris. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill spoke with Brewin this week about Java, Web 2.0, and what Sun is pondering in the area of software development.

So you have two CTOs for software?

Co-CTOs, that's why the "co" is in there. It's definitely a different kind of arrangement, and we do a lot of sharing. Both of us advise on both areas, and if you take a look at sort of the software platforms, the lines are blurring between what's an operating platform and what's an application. I mean a lot of the stuff you see on SOA and the Web 2.0 stuff, it's part of a platform, right? And if you want a network of a set of Web services that perform really well [and] are always available, it impacts on the operating system. And it impacts on the hardware. So it's all the way down to things like Niagara on a chip. Therefore, we do a lot of sharing. But if you had to pick sort of like the main domain, that would be it.

What developments does Sun have planned in the area of Web services?

We are doing two things. No. 1 is we're looking at completing and continuing development in the area of the WS-* stack, especially around the interoperability aspects with Microsoft. But in terms of when we start taking a look at the Web 2.0 space, REST [Representational State Transfer] starts looking more interesting.

What are you going to be doing with REST?

We're not sure yet. I'm working with folks like Tim Bray trying to figure out what the development community is looking for there.

What's interesting about REST?

I think it's primarily how lightweight it is. If you take a look at the WS-* stuff, it's fairly heavyweight, there's a lot in there to do a lot of sort of enterprise-class things. But if you don't need high levels of security or messaging reliability, then essentially simple Web services might be a better answer.

I understand REST to be a more simplified version of Web services, which are not enterprise-ready?

Yes, although a lot of enterprises I think are using it, again because it's simple. It comes down to if I'm going to be doing relatively simple Web transactions, whether I'm doing syndication or blogging, why do I need high levels of security? I don't care. Right? It doesn't really matter. If, on the other hand, I'm using a Web service to do a bank transaction, then it might make sense to use something like WS-Reliability.

So what kind of products do you think you might release to support REST?

Honestly I'm not sure yet. I've only been on the job now for about two weeks. So I'm hoping the next time we get together, I should have a lot more information.

Which would be when?

I'd probably have more to talk about within, let's say, four to six weeks.

Is this some sort of development tool or product related to REST?

Actually more generically, I would say it's more related to Sun's Web 2.0 strategy, and both in the sense of what we might be doing in developer tools as well as what we're going to do internally to support in terms of platform.

So will there be a new product or a new developer tool?

I think more than likely it will be changes to development tools, to better support Web 2.0 development.

Related to REST?

That is definitely one of the things on our list, the other ones being additional languages, scripting languages. [Including] obviously JavaScript. I'm looking at PHP [Hypertext Preprocessor ], Python, Ruby as possibilities. The other thing is to take a look at potential support for things like Ruby on Rails.

Which tools are you talking about?

I'm thinking of Sun Java Studio Creator and possibly NetBeans ... I'm thinking of Creator, simply because that's where we're doing a lot of our Web tier development.

So this will be in the next few weeks and some kind of changes to the tools are being pondered. Do you know when these will be available?

No, I don't yet.

Don't you need to support AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript and XML] to some degree?

We support AJAX, and so we've done a couple of different things. One of them is obviously the Open AJAX announcement, right? ... Two weeks ago there were two announcements, we opened up two sites on One's for JavaScript and one's for AJAX. And then the last one, there's an open source project called jMaki.

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