Sun Microsystems will unveil a developer tool and community portal designed to broaden the appeal of its Java programming language.
The developer tool, codenamed Project Rave, will be demonstrated at Sun's JavaOne Conference in San Francisco next week.
It will incorporate the JavaServer Faces Web APIs (application programming interfaces) as well as a number of Java web services and database connectivity technologies, all with the aim of making Java development - and in particular, Java web services development - easier to do.
Sun will also go live with an open-source developer portal called Java.net.
The site will host open-source implementations of a number of Java APIs, including the Java API for XML-Based Remote Procedure Calls (JAX-RPC), the JAIN telecommunication APIs, Sun's Jini and Jxta networking software and parts of Sun's Swing graphical user interface libraries. Java.net will also host Sun's NetBeans development tools, which will form the basis for Project Rave.
Project Rave and Java.net are designed, in part, to attract a new class of developer to the Java platform, said Sun vice-president of developer platforms Rich Green.
"It is designed to be a very rapid graphical development environment for constructing two-tier applications," he said.
Green said Sun was not soley targeting Microsoft's Visual Studio developers with Project Rave.
"We are now poised, from a platform and a technology tools level, to attract two to three times the number of developers who have associated with the platform to date," Green said.
"We would expect to grow from three million to 10 million [developers] over the next two to three years," he added.
Although Sun is aiming Project Rave partly at Visual Studio developers, the move may come too late to convert many in the Microsoft camp, said Meta Group's senior program director, Thomas Murphy.
"Now that .net's been out for a year, what chance do you have of converting people?" he asked. "Getting the developers to switch is going to be very hard," he said.
Sun has not yet determined pricing for Project Rave or whether or not it will be open-sourced, but Green said the product will ship in beta version this autumn.
Robert McMillian writes for IDG News Service