The Java Development Conference in London last week played host to a variety of ISVs and new product announcements. The conference put the final nail in the coffin of client-based Java, which has now been completely upstaged by server-based Java technologies.
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With the introduction of more mature server-based Java technology such as Java Server Pages and Enterprise Java Beans 1.1 last year, and the increased interest in small footprint devices such as smart phones and PDAs, fewer companies are looking at client-based Java as a viable computing platform.
Running Java as a middle-tier logic on the server and providing access to applications through a straight browser is a popular method of reducing performance and compatibility problems at the client end.
One noticeable absence from the show was Sun itself. Sun, which has its own JavaOne conference this summer, has come under considerable flak recently for its lack of an open stance on Java. The company pulled out of the standardisation process conducted by the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) in December after failing to respond to a deadline.
Companies, including IBM, have been unhappy with the move. "IBM will continue to use the new open JCP to push Sun, because they don't think its efforts go far enough. They are very committed to vendor neutrality," said one source close to Big Blue last week.
IBM has also been involved in wrangles over branding for Sun's Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).
Andy Bush, new technologies manager at Sun, dismisses concerns over Sun's control of the standard. "If the standards organisations were happy to allow us still to own the intellectual property with it, that would be fine, but they wanted to take total ownership and control and that wouldn't be good for anyone," he complains.
"The vast majority of developers are more than happy with the process that it's going through," says Bush.
The same cannot be said for ECMA. The association reportedly proposed in January that it make a normative reference to Java 2 Standard Edition in its work to create a platform independent computing environment standard.
A subsequent e-mail issued by ECMA to its members complains of Sun missing "every element of sensitiveness and subtlety" by refusing to co-operate and blaming the ECMA for the breakdown of the process.
Now, Sun is attempting to bolster its Java community process to keep the technology closer to home. Having danced toe-to-toe with both ECMA and ISO on open standardisation, the company is running out of options for standardisation.
It appears that Java will remain a Sun-owned and Sun-ratified technology for some time to come.