Sun Microsystems has taken an important step toward commercialising an experimental Java performance measurement tool called JFluid, moving the two-year-old project from the Sun Labs research and development group into the company's software division.
Sun now expects to ship the software as part of an April 2005 release of its Java Studio integrated development environment (IDE), the company said.
JFluid is a "profiling" tool, software that examines Java applications and informs developers of potential performance bottlenecks in their code.
An early access version of JFluid has been integrated into version 3.6 of the NetBeans open source software, which forms the basis the commercial Java Studio product.
Though a number of Java profilers are already shipping, they are typically sold as stand-alone products and not integrated into IDEs, said to Rich Unger, a member of the NetBeans Governance Board and a software engineer at Nuance Communications, who is familiar with JFluid.
What makes JFluid unique is the fact that developers can turn its profiling features on or off at any time, and use them to examine the performance a small section of the code that they are interested in, rather than the entire Java application, making JFluid a much faster than most profilers, Unger said.
"In general, profilers are a real drag on performance," he said. "If you're trying to find a memory leak that only manifests itself after a 20-minute operation, it can take a few hours running under a profiler to get to that point."
Though profilers have been around for years, they are part of a growing number of tools being made to let software developers fix problems, like application performance, which have previously been handled by quality assurance or operations teams, said Dan Scholler, vice-president of technology research services with analyst Meta Group.
"Tools are catching up and building in all of this stuff that historically has been done after the fact," he said. "What we are seeing is an aggressive effort to improve the productivity of individual developers."
JFluid is not the only Sun Labs technology being integrated into Sun's commercial products. Sun is also integrating the Jackpot project, led by Java creator James Gosling, into its IDE.
Jackpot consists of a number of developer tools designed to reduce the complexity of Java application development.
Sun has also announced an upgrade to its Java Studio Creator visual development environment. The product now supports Mac OS X and Solaris x86, which is the version of the operating system for the Intel x86 architecture. Also added is language support for Japanese and simplified Chinese.
The upgrade is free to current customers. Java Studio Creator is available as part of the Sun Developer Network subscription programme, which costs $99 (£54) per year.
Robert McMillan writes for IDG News Service