Sun Microsystems has released a beta version of Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE), a set of specifications used to develop Java applications primarily for desktop computers.
Sun described the upgrade, codenamed Tiger, as the latest major revision to the Java platform. It implements dozens of changes, many of which focus on making the Java programming language easier for developers to use.
A beta release of the upgrade, which is called J2SE 1.5, is available for download at Sun's Java website.
It consists of two parts - an SDK (software development kit) and a Java runtime environment. The final version is expected out by the middle of the year.
While Sun's Java software has been widely adopted on server computers, its use on the desktop has been less widespread. Nevertheless, J2SE is seen as important because it provides the foundation for Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), the server version of Java. New capabilities in J2SE are often eventually incorporated in J2EE.
The J2SE upgrade also focuses on issues that are important for enterprise use, such as performance, scalability and security. It also adds support for Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit Opteron chips for servers running Windows 2003 and SuSE Linux's version of Linux.
Altogether, the upgrade implements 15 Java Specification Requests, which are suggestions for extending and improving Java that pass through the multivendor Java Community Process.
Many of the changes to the Java language shift responsibility for writing basic code elements from the programmer to the software compiler, which should mean fewer bugs and less work for developers.
Other features include a Java virtual machine monitoring and management API (application programming interface), better "out of the box performance" and a default look and feel.
More information is at java.sun.com/j2se/1.5.0/index.jsp/
James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service