Vendors eat, drink and sleep Java

Java developers are not without their tools. That is clear with the outpouring of announcements to come from software development tool vendors at this year's JavaOne conference, which continues here through Friday with more spotlights on the popular coding community.

In its sixth year, the Sun Microsystems-sponsored event is a gathering for developers that eat and sleep this language for building flashy Web sites and applications for the range of computing devices. And with the explosion of industry support for standards that will enable a world of Web services and business-to-business transactions, companies are using Java technology to do much of the work, according to Java proponents.

"Clearly, Java is the core technology to put applications on the Web," said Richard Green, vice president and general manager of Java software development at Sun, during a keynote address Monday.

Monday, Sun rolled out its first toolset for building Web services applications with an all-in-one package based on the Java 2 platform. Similar to the host of other toolkit releases here, the Web Services Pack relies on a collection of industry standards including support for XML, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and directory services including UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration).

The Web Services Pack includes a new version of Tomcat, a reference implementation for Java designed through the Jakarta project at the Apache Software Foundation. Tomcat is an open-source project and free to developers. The pack also contains the JAX Pack, a collection of Java APIs based on XML; and JavaServer Faces, a toolkit for developing user interfaces for the server. It is available for download and will be retooled on a quarterly basis, Green said.

As the major software vendors from Microsoft to IBM talk up Web services, Sun's efforts to bill Java as a simple and reliable method of building Internet-based applications that can be used in a Web services context could not come too soon, analysts note. Sun announced plans to roll in support for Web services into the next release of its J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), offering the same industry-standard support as its the Web Services Pack.

Sun also delivered a set of tools that will make it easier to build Java applications for its Cobalt server appliance, a box that hosts and delivers Web pages. The Sun Cobalt Developer Kit is available free to developers to create and deploy server-side Java-based Web applications. It includes Apache's Tomcat and Java Servlet technology.

Rounding out its toolkit releases, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based server and software maker unveiled the latest version of Forte for Java Enterprise Edition. Forte 3.0 supports EJBs (Enterprise JavaBeans) and SunONE (Sun Open Net Environment) and includes features that allow members of a software development team to work closely together on the same project. The release will also support development for the iPlanet Application Server 6.0, which was released with new support for SOAP and Forte for Java 3.0 Monday.

Oracle delivered free copies of its JDeveloper for building XML- and Java-based applications for the Oracle9i Application Server, offering developers an early look at the new platform. JDeveloper includes support for building, debugging, and deploying any type of J2EE and XML application.

Other technology heavyweights tossed some Java toolkits to developers at JavaOne.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) released a framework to allow Java developers to integrate applications with its Netaction Internet Operating Environment. IBM pushed its WebSphere application server as the first software suite to support open standards for telecommunication service providers based on Java. The announcement will allow developers to build smart applications and services for the phones. And BEA Systems offered new pieces to its WebLogic business-to-business platform Tuesday, which is heavily based on Java technology. The latest release includes a Java application server called WebLogic Server 6.1 and is built to integrate with J2EE architecture. A beta version of the application server is available for download.

Meanwhile, software development tool maker Borland released JBuilder 5, a Java-based development environment that allows corporate users to develop and deploy Internet business applications on a variety of operating systems, from IBM's WebSphere to BEA's WebLogic 6, and application servers such as Solaris and Linux. The toolkit enables collaboration and has full support for XML.

Borland also said it has enabled SAP customers to integrate and use JBuilder for building larger enterprise applications. In addition, the Scotts Valley, Calif.-based tools company said it is teaming with Nokia to offer Java tools for developers of mobile applications based on its popular JBuilder development platform. The JBuilder 5 MobileSet will be closely tied to Nokia's Java-enabled mobile phones.

The toolkit can also work with other devices built with J2ME (Java 2 Micro Edition), and the company said it will work with other mobile phone makers to offer more customized toolsets by year's end.

Java tools players Borland and WebGain announced new versions of several of their products here at the JavaOne developer conference on Monday.

Borland was busy on the partnership front, inking a deal with Nokiato deliver MobileSet, a J2ME product the companies will jointly deliver to enable developers to build applications for wireless handsets and mobile phones.

The initial version will focus on sales force and inventory control applications. Later this year, Borland plans to release a multi-platform version that will run on Nokia's competitor's handsets, according to Ted Shelton, Borland's chief strategy officer.

"As the capacity of the machines increases, their use in the way will gain momentum," Shelton added.

WebGain, in Santa Clara, Calif., enhanced a number of its Java products and announced a new one.

In addition to updating its WebGain Studio and Structure Builder software, the company announced Business Designer, which is designed to help IT and business managers more clearly align their development efforts.

"The goal is to keep developers focused on business logic, and we'll take care of automating the standards and other pieces," said Ted Farrell, CTO of WebGain.