Sun readies updates for J2EE, J2ME for early 2003

Sun Microsystems Inc. has been readying updates to its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) specification for enterprise applications and its J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition) specification for mobile devices, both of which will be finalized early next year, a company spokesman confirmed Friday.

The Java Community Process (JCP) is in the process of casting final votes on J2EE 1.4 and the newest version of J2ME, said David Harrah, a Java marketing manager at Sun, in Santa Clara, California.

"The reference implementation, or beta version, of J2EE 1.4 will be available to developers for download in early November. It should be finalized and available in early 2003, with product implementation in the second half of 2003," Harrah said.

Sun announced the updates at its JavaOne Japan show on Wednesday, Harrah said.

J2EE 1.4 includes support for several Java APIs (application programming interfaces) for Web services using XML (Extensible Markup Language). They include JAXP (Java API for XML Parsing); JAXM (Java API for XML Messaging); JAXR (Java API for XML Registries), which supports UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration). Also included are JAXRPC (Java API for XML for Remote Procedure Calls) for SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) messaging, as well as a Java API supporting WSD (Web Server Director), Harrah said.

"Developers building application servers based on the Java standard can already get the APIs separately and add them to J2EE 1.3, but this new version will come with it all built in -- no assembly required -- so they won't have to spend the time with integration," Harrah said.

The new specification also offers an enhanced version of the Java Connector Architecture (JCA) to allow for two-way integration with systems outside of the enterprise, as well as a new standard for extending J2EE containers, and a J2EE standard for managing and deploying applications, Harrah said.

"In terms of two-way integration, there is a strong security element using APIs with security for SSL (secure sockets layer) and what's called 'a strongly-typed language.' For example, you cannot add your own code in it like you can with C++. The system also checks every command and if it's not an approved variable, it kicks it out," Harrah said.

The J2EE 1.4 version of Sun's ONE (Open Net Environment) Studio development environment will probably be available in the second half of next year, around the same time that other Java vendors get J2EE 1.4 products to market, he said. They include IBM Corp., BEA Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp.

The new J2ME standard for wireless Java applications will have three major upgrades, including a new 2.0 version of the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP), new wireless messaging APIs and support for SMS (short message service) and BMS (broadcast message service), and support for MMAPI (Mobile Media API) for better sound and higher-level graphics, Harrah said.

"These improvements are all on a schedule with various stages of approval from the JCP. Towards the end of 2003, we'll start seeing mobile phones that use MIDP 2.0, which sweeps up into the standard a lot of new features and applications that developers and companies have been adding into phones," Harrah said.

Two new features in MIDP 2.0 will be better over-the-air provisioning, making the platform more secure, and a new user interface that defines support for screen sizes and features including scroll wheels, Harrah said.

Additionally, the JCP has recently approved a fourth J2ME set of APIs called the Personal Profile, for devices that use more resources than typical handheld devices, such as wireless PDAs (personal digital assistant) and set-top boxes that require 2M bytes of memory or more, Harrah said.

"Throughout the world, there are 30 million handsets in use that use Java. Developers will find what they want to do using J2ME, and will throw out applications for mobile devices to users to see which ones users pick up," Harrah said.

Sun expects companies in Asia, and in particular Japan, to be the first to utilize J2ME for such products mobile phones with built-in digital cameras, with Europe following closely behind.

"In the U.S., Sprint (Corp.) deployed J2ME last month in what its calls Sprint Vision. That is the biggest company in the U.S. so far to deploy Java-based applications on their cell phones. AT&T Wireless (part of AT&T Corp.) will have Java-based services available at the end of the year. So the U.S. market is beginning to develop," Harrah said.

As developers create more Java-based applications and users become more familiar with the technologies and what the applications can do, the standard will become more entrenched in the market and begin to expand.

"While J2EE 1.4 is aimed at the enterprise market and J2ME is aimed at the consumer mobile area, there is a huge potential (for J2ME) in the enterprise market for companies running J2EE servers, with more and more connectors coming to market all the time," Harrah said.

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