Sun, along with 13 software companies including BEA, Compuware, SAP, Oracle and SAS, has formed an industry group known as the Java Tools Community (JTC). The group aims to drive compatibility between Java tools from different suppliers.
Missing from the group were IBM and Borland, which in 2001 founded Eclipse, a rival industry body working on standards for development tools. A spokesman for Borland told Computer Weekly it had no plans to join the JTC at present.
Java is facing increasing competition from Microsoft .net. Analyst firm Gartner said support from IBM and Borland would be critical to the success of JTC. A serious split could weaken Java in the eyes of users pondering which development platform to focus on in 2004.
Bola Rotiba, senior analyst at Ovum, said the formation of JTC would lead to confusion for end-users. "There needs to be one standard," she said.
Rotiba also criticised Sun's record on collaborating with the industry to enhance Java through the Java Community Process.
Paul Bellchambers, who is responsible for the iForce partner programme at Sun, insisted JTC was necessary.
He said many existing tools used by Java developers are not compatible, so cannot share information easily, which makes it difficult for users who wish to run multiple Java development tools.
Bellchambers believed JTC would eventually merge with Eclipse. He also defended the Java Community Process. "There has been lot of positive feedback," he said.