Sun hails open-source meta data repository

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday plans to announce that it has contributed meta data repository modules to the NetBeans open-source development project as part of the Object Management Group's MDA (Model Driven Architecture) effort.

The repository can, for example, assist in the development of Web services applications by enabling developers to quickly locate objects to be fitted with SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) interfaces, according to Sun. CORBA and other infrastructure standards also can be supported.

The NetBeans open-source project is a Java-based effort that is being positioned as a compliant solution for the MDA specification. The OMG MDA is designed to protect software investments by providing a framework in which application infrastructure components, such as databases and programming languages, can be changed without requiring enterprises to change their underlying application architecture.

A meta data repository, which can hold information about programming objects so they can be reused, is critical to supporting the MDA, said Drew Engstrom, product line manager for Sun's ONE Studio tools, in Menlo Park, Calif. "When an organization is doing object-based development, typically you end up with a library of hundreds of objects," Engstrom said.

The meta data repository is expected to be included in an upcoming version of the NetBeans IDE (integrated development environment), to be known as build 4.0, in six to eight months, according to Engstrom. It has been available in an experimental mode, according to Sun.

The MDA implements OMG's Meta Object Facility, an abstract language for describing meta models, and integrates it into the NetBeans IDE. Sun donated NetBeans to the open-source community two years ago, Engstrom said.

An OMG official applauded Sun's efforts.

"This is the first time I've seen Model Driven Architecture tools that are available in open source," meaning developers can have the source code free, said Richard Soley, OMG chairman, in Needham, Mass.

Other companies that have submitted MDAs include IBM Corp., with WebSphere, and Rational Software Corp., with XDE, Soley said.

NetBeans provides a common platform for Java tools and supports the Linux, Solaris, and Windows operating systems, according to Sun.

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