The Java Community Process (JCP) is in the process of casting final votes on J2EE 1.4 and the newest version of J2ME, David Harrah, a Java marketing manager at Sun in California, said.
"The beta version, of J2EE 1.4 will be available to developers for download in early November. It should be finalised and available in early 2003, with product implementation in the second half of 2003," Harrah said.
J2EE 1.4 includes support for several Java APIs (application programming interfaces) for Web services using XML. They include JAXP (Java API for XML Parsing); JAXM (Java API for XML Messaging) and JAXR (Java API for XML Registries), which support UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration). Also included are JAXRPC (Java API for XML for Remote Procedure Calls) for Soap (Simple Object Access Protocol) messaging, as well as a Java API supporting WSD (Web Server Director).
"Developers building application servers based on the Java standard can already get the APIs separately and add them to J2EE 1.3, but this new version will come with it all built in - no assembly required - so they won't have to spend the time with integration," Harrah said.
The new specification also offers an enhanced version of the Java Connector Architecture (JCA) to allow for two-way integration with systems outside of the enterprise, as well as a new standard for extending J2EE containers, and a J2EE standard for managing and deploying applications, Harrah said.
"In terms of two-way integration, there is a strong security element using APIs with security for secure sockets layer and what's called 'a strongly-typed language.' For example, you cannot add your own code in it like you can with C++. The system also checks every command and if it's not an approved variable, it kicks it out," Harrah said.
The J2EE 1.4 version of Sun's ONE (Open Net Environment) Studio development environment will probably be available in the second half of next year, around the same time that other Java vendors, including IBM, BEA Systems and Oracle get J2EE 1.4 products to market, he said.
The new J2ME standard for wireless Java applications will have three major upgrades, including a new version 2.0 of the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP), new wireless messaging APIs and support for SMS (short message service) and BMS (broadcast message service), and support for MMAPI (Mobile Media API) for better sound and higher-level graphics, Harrah said.
"These improvements are all on a schedule with various stages of approval from the JCP. Towards the end of 2003, we'll start seeing mobile phones that use MIDP 2.0, which sweeps up into the standard a lot of new features and applications that developers and companies have been adding into phones," Harrah said.
Two new features in MIDP 2.0 will be better over-the-air provisioning, making the platform more secure, and a new user interface that defines support for screen sizes and features including scroll wheels, Harrah said.
Additionally, the JCP has recently approved a fourth J2ME set of APIs called the Personal Profile, for devices that use more resources than typical handheld devices, such as wireless PDAs and set-top boxes that require 2Mbytes of memory or more, Harrah said.
"Throughout the world, there are 30 million handsets in use that use Java. Developers will find what they want to do using J2ME, and will throw out applications for mobile devices to users to see which ones users pick up," Harrah said.
Sun expects companies in Asia, and in particular Japan, to be the first to utilise J2ME for products such as mobile phones with built-in digital cameras.
"In the USA Sprint deployed J2ME last month in what its calls Sprint Vision. That is the biggest company in the US so far to deploy Java-based applications on their mobile phones. AT&T Wireless will have Java-based services available at the end of the year. So the US market is beginning to develop," Harrah said.
"While J2EE 1.4 is aimed at the enterprise market and J2ME is aimed at the consumer mobile area, there is a huge potential (for J2ME) in the enterprise market for companies running J2EE servers, with more and more connectors coming to market all the time," he added.