Although many companies have been using J2EE version 1.3 for some time, it was still a developing beta product. This release has the full stamp of approval from the development committee, the Java Community Process, and any future changes will be minor bug fixes and patches. From now on, this is the official version of Java until the completion of J2EE 1.4, which is currently in beta.
Alongside the release of J2EE 1.3, the company has added a Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) which contains tools and documentation so that applets and applications can be tested for compliance with the standard to ensure they will run with other Java programs. Successful completion of the tests allows the licencees to use Sun's Java Compatible, Enterprise Edition, branding as a mark of assurance.
The version 1.3 environment has been released as a specification, Reference Implementation (RI) and Technology Compatibility Kit (TCK). The specification describes the features and functions of the language, the RI contains a working prototype in source and binary form as a working example for developers, and the TCK contains the CTS testing environment.
Rob Gingell, chairman of the Java Community Process, which co-ordinates the disparate efforts of Java development worldwide, said, "One of the primary reasons J2EE has become an industry-recognised development platform is the expertise and knowledge contributed by the hundreds of participants in the process.
"The result of this industry collaboration is a Java-enabled end-to-end architecture that leverages the power of enterprise servers and delivers application access to the widest range of Internet clients, from desktop computers to handheld devices, set-top boxes and smartcards."
Within this version of Java the developers have concentrated on business integration. Connectors have been introduced to simplify the task of integrating programs with existing heterogeneous systems including back-end applications such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management.
Java APIs (application programming interfaces) can now be developed under the Java Message Service so that messages sent between Java applications can be created and sent even though the sender and receiver are not available at the same time (asynchronously).
The messaging system has also been enhanced through the use of Message Driven Beans, which provide a component model for messaging.
In line with e-business standards, the Java Community Process has increased XML integration by including a dedicated API for XML Processing (JAXP) and has added the ability to write and manipulate Java Server Pages using XML.
The development team has also extended the Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) architecture to introduce container-managed persistence. This allows greater portability of EJBs from one database to another. The container handles all database storage and retrieval calls and can be fitted around any entity bean (object or applet).