Sun aims to bring portable data a step closer by allowing developers to integrate Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) with its Java application code.
The supplier says it will provide tools and programming interfaces to make it easy for developers to use XML, the Internet data standard, in their Java applications. It also promised to ensure openness by adopting and participating in the development of existing open standards.
Simon Nicholson, senior market strategist at Sun's XML Technology Center, said, "XML very much extends what we can do with Java because it enables developers to work with open, portable data."
XML promises to allow businesses to create applications that can share data over the Internet, overcoming the difficulties created by incompatible file formats and application code.
Jon Collins, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, said the move would ensure Java developers' skills remain valuable in the future. "Sun's move makes sense. Microsoft casts XML as Java's demon so Sun has got to cast a spell to tame it. XML is inevitable and technologically sound."
Microsoft has maintained that "Java will be bypassed altogether once XML standards are accepted for business-to-business commerce" (Computer Weekly, 9 March). Nicholson refutes this: "Look at the work we've done with W3C, if we thought there was a risk of that happening, it isn't something we would have engaged in."
The main standard that will be supported is e-business XML, which is an initiative backed by the United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business.