Sun aims for easier Java programming

Simplifying Java programming is on the minds of Java development executives at Sun Microsystems, but making the language...

Simplifying Java programming is on the minds of Java development executives at Sun Microsystems, but making the language available via an open-source format remains off the table, according to executives at a Sun "Chalk Talk" session this week.
Executives from Sun and Borland Software were hopeful that new Java technologies such as annotations, JVMTI (Java Virtual Machine Tool Interface), and a persistence API could bring about easier programming in Java.

Annotations, which is featured in the recently released J2SE 5.0, allow developers to declaratively mark code to ascribe to it a particular behaviour, according to Sun. Previously, this required a separate XML file. With annotations, a developer, for example, could write a stateless EJB that performs tax calculations as an annotation.

"We launched JSR 175 to take this somewhat vague concept and actually turn it into a language design," said Graham Hamilton, vice-president and Fellow for Java Platform and Architecture at Sun.

"I think [annotations] is the most important feature of J2SE 5.0," Hamilton said.

"The area where annotations are going to have an impact is on the next revision of J2EE," said Axel Kratel, senior product manager for Java technology solutions at Borland.

The next version of J2EE, Version 5, is expected in early 2006. Sun is seeking a common set of annotations for developers to use. Annotations functionality is expected to be added to Sun's Java Studio Creator tool at some point.

A unified persistence model also is a goal. A persistence API allows for creation of Java objects and having the data in those objects persist, or be saved, in a database. The persistence API is being worked on for Version 3 of EJB, for inclusion in J2EE 5. Sun is seeking a "Plain Old Java Objects" persistence model to provide a single object-relational mapping facility for all Java application developers that works in both J2SE and J2EE.

Sun officials and Kratel also touted JVMTI, which provides a standard API for gauging application memory and time consumption. It is included in the JDK. Borland plans to support this in an upcoming version of its Optimizeit ServerTrace product for application performance analysis and diagnostics. Sun plans to support JVMTI in the NetBeans open-source tools platform.

Sun officials, though, maintained Sun's stance that to promote compatability on the Java platform, the platform must not be released under an open-source format. Compatability tests must be maintained, they stressed. Java-based technologies themselves, however, have been offered via open source.

"What do you think [the open sourcing of Java] does that people can't do today?" asked Onno Kluyt, chairman of the JCP (Java Community Process) at Sun.

"The one thing that we're kind of really strong on is compatability," Hamilton added.

Sun has resisted calls from vendors such as IBM and BEA Systems to make Java available via open source.

  Paul Krill writes for Infoworld

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