Sun Releases Java Tools Updates

New updates to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Forte for Java development tools offer developers quick access to online Java plug-ins, a move that users and analysts said should make it easier to find code components.

Sun next week will announce Forte for Java Version 2.0. New features include the ability to create and debug JavaServer Pages (JSP), support for the Java Data Object (JDO) interface to databases and team source-code management.

Sun developed the product using a publicly available code base. The Community Edition is offered as a free download at www.sun.com/forte/ffj/ce. The Internet Edition costs US$495 and includes support for plug-in modules, which let developers download code fragments as needed from the Web.

By giving developers access to plug-ins on the fly, Sun hopes to make it easier to find objects and components, thus speeding up application development times, said Drew Engstrom, Sun's product line manager.

For example, a developer looking for a JDO to connect to a data store will be pointed toward Sun's Web site to dynamically retrieve the needed object, Engstrom said.

Shorter Search, Faster Access

It's a move that should cut down search times and give developers faster access to objects, said Tracy Corbo, an analyst at Hurwitz Group Inc. in Framingham.

"One thing Sun learned from client-side Java was that the performance stunk," Corbo said. "They're trying to find ways to optimize performance by offering smaller chunks of code for download."

Alvin Thompson, a software engineer at Baltimore Biomedical Inc., a medical analysis toolmaker in Baltimore, said the dynamic plug-in feature in Forte for Java should save developers time in searching for the bits of code needed to develop an application.

"Speed was an issue when Java first came out," but it isn't now, he said. "The plug-in model offers an advantage of minimizing network traffic, because you only get what you need."

Users said the new version of the tool set also puts more emphasis on complex computing environments.

"We're moving to JSP, [Enterprise JavaBeans] and XML as [our] primary development platform because our projects are more complex and you cannot do complex processing with HTML pages, other than presenting simple bits of text," said Jose Ivey, chief technology officer at Doublespace, a Web integrator in New York.

The updates to Forte for Java are memory-intensive, and Peter O'Kelly, an analyst at Patricia Seybold Group in Boston, recommends that developers use computers with at least 256MB of memory.

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