Sun Microsystems has promised that the next version of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition will fully support guidelines being promoted by the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) to ensure that applications will work with one another.
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However, the decision to support the WS-I Organization's "basic profile" - a set of rules specifying how to implement key Web services specifications - will mean delays in releasing the next version of J2EE.
Sun said Version 1.4 of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) would be pushed back from its planned first-quarter release until the summer.
"It's a big commitment on behalf of the J2EE community to say that they will make the WS-I 1.0 basic profile an absolute requirement for all 1.4 products going out the door," said Mark Hapner, a distinguished engineer at Sun and the lead architect of J2EE.
"It took a lot of background work to make sure the J2EE community could deliver on this promise."
WS-I first had to clarify ambiguities and fill in deficiencies in key Web services standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (Soap), Web Services Description Language (WSDL) and Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) to verify that interoperability could be achieved.
The expert group charged with evolving the J2EE specification was unanimous in its support for the WS-I profile, according to Hapner, who is co-leader of the J2EE specification.
Expert groups comprising representatives from various supplierrs are responsible for overseeing aspects of Java under the Java Community Process (JCP), which Sun established in 1995 to develop and revise the technology it had created.
Industry analysts praised Sun's move and said the resulting delay to J2EE 1.4 should not adversely affect corporate IT users.
"Right now, most organisations are not even using the [J2EE] features that exist already. Most of them are using Java Server Pages, but there's not a lot of Enterprise JavaBeans use going on," said Gartner analyst Daryl Plummer.
"I'm hard-pressed to believe that anybody but the most leading-edge Java users are going to be generally impacted by a significant delay."
Plummer said the delay would be worth it if it results in Java "more naturally supporting the building of good Web services".
Giga Information Group analyst Mike Gilpin doubted the delay would have a significant impact on product release schedules, adding that many supliers have already delivered support for key features of J2EE 1.4.
The WS-I's membership includes IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.