New Java tools for Web services are unveiled at the JavaOne conference

At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week, Java supporters were shoring up the language following Microsoft's...

At the JavaOne conference in San Francisco last week, Java supporters were shoring up the language following Microsoft's successful launch of Visual Studio .net and the announcement that Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) version 1.4 will not appear until next year, writes Eric Doyle.

The new version was due to appear later this year but Sun Microsystems and the Java Community Process, the group of third-parties who develop and modify Java pending Sun's approval, said that it will not be upgraded until January at the earliest.

Although this will give Microsoft ammunition to attack Java and say that .net is leading in the Web services battle, the fact that much of what will be included in J2EE 1.4 is already available will help refute this.

Consequently, the main announcements at JavaOne were Web service tools from Sun, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. This follows BEA Systems' release of its Weblogic Workshop Java Web services development environment at its user conference a few weeks ago.

Sun shipped the Web Services Pack, an update for its Web services toolkit, to add four Java application programming interfaces to link Java and XML for data exchange. This was shadowed by Sun's iPlanet division providing similar XML capabilities for the iPlanet Integration Server.

IBM added integration features to its Websphere Studio to allow developers to integrate Java and non-Java applications. HP announced Services Transactions to manage Web services transactions, and Oracle unveiled its Technology Network to give developers online assistance and support. The company also launched two free applications: a portal development tool and a mobile application development environment for phones and PDAs.

Sun was also promoting hardware for Web services by selling Sharp's Zaurus SL5500 PDA for just $299 (£210), including a Linksys 802.11b wireless card, at the show. The Zaurus runs on Linux but includes Personal Java, a version of Java optimised for handheld devices. To further encourage sales, Sun was running competitions based around the PDA and its wireless capabilities.

The Zaurus was released earlier this year and distinguishes itself from other PDAs by having a cleverly concealed mini-keyboard which slides up behind the screen when not in use, relying on a touch-screen and stylus for normal operation - but without handwritten input through character recognition.

Apart from the core PDA applications, such as address book, scheduler and notepad, the Zaurus includes MP3 and MPeg1 capabilities to allow video and audio playback.

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