Sun offers enterprise Java technologies but silence on Oracle

Glassfish v3 application server, Netbeans 6.8 IDE, and Java EE 6 SDK among the products announced by Sun

Sun Microsystems officials introduced on Thursday Sun's upgrades to three Java-based technologies, including the company's latest implementation of enterprise Java. But they were silent on the elephant in the room: How the company's efforts might be impacted by the planned acquisition of Sun by Oracle.

Technologies released include Sun's Java Platform Enterprise (EE) 6 implementation and the accompanying Java EE 6 SDK and test compatibility kit; commercial and open source implementations of the GlassFish v3 Java EE application server, which supports Java EE 6; and the NetBeans 6.8 IDE, which also leverages Java EE 6.

"The release of Java EE 6 is the culmination of over three years of work," by Sun and others who have contributed to the specification, said Kevin Schmidt, director of product management and marketing for Sun's application platform organization.

"Java EE 6 continues to add new features like RESTful Web services, dependency injection and annotation additions for servlets, further reducing the amount of code the developer must write. But it also provides a more extensible and flexible platform through the introduction of profiles and pruning," Schmidt said. Profiles enable implementations of Java for specific purposes, such as a Web development profile feature in Java EE 6. The SDK is downloadable from this Web page.

With Java EE 6, Sun is offering stack capabilities that have been popularized in other circles, an analyst said.

"The shrinking down of the stacks with profiles has been a long time coming," analyst Michael Cote, of RedMonk, said. "Spring and the OSGi crew have made hay with providing these 'stackless stacks' for some time now, and seeing the goal of reducing complexity become part of EE is fantastic."

Sun, however, declined to respond to questions pertaining to how Sun's being acquired by Oracle might impact Java and NetBeans. That acquisition currently is stalled, awaiting approval by the European Union. Cote, however said the impact of the combined Oracle and Sun venture on Java itself would be minimal. Oracle has come out endorsing Java and technologies such as GlassFish.

"Java is such a core part of the IT world, an open enough ecosystem, and core to many software offering for all the big players, including Oracle, that messing with Java is difficult," Cote said. "Oracle would have more control over NetBeans and GlassFish, the second of which I'm seeing a lot of enthusiasm for from Java developers who want a simpler, but robust app server."

GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 was introduced as the commercial version of the application server, along with the open source counterpart, GlassFish v3. With the enterprise version, users can deploy Web applications with the Java EE 6 Web Profile and also benefit from a simplified programming model and Java EE 6 programming improvements, Sun said. The enterprise product is based on an OSGi runtime, enabling features to be added dynamically.  Faster startup times also are featured.

"When the application server comes up, only the necessary modules are loaded," said Tom Kincaid, executive director of Sun's application platform organization.

GUI and development tools supported by Enterprise Server v3 include NetBeans, Eclipse, JetBrains IntelliJ Idea, Maven and others. A subscription to Enterprise Server v3 starts in price at $999 per server and features the GlassFish Portfolio. The commercial license for GlassFish includes patches and bug responses not offered for the open source version. GlassFiash Enterprise Server v3 is accessible at this Web page.

GlassFish has cloud computing potential, according to Sun.

"We see tremendous opportunity for GlassFish in the cloud and we're doing some work right now in that area," Schmidt said. The company will have news in that vein early next year, he said.

In addition to supporting Java EE 6 with wizard-based development capabilities, the open source NetBeans 6.8 IDE supports development of PHP 5.3 applications and backs the Symfony framework. Capabilities for JavaFX development include improved code completion and navigation for JavaFX in the NetBeans editor.

Possibly as early as next week, Sun plans to introduce a preview of a product for building forms-based applications with JavaFX and NetBeans. The working name of the tool is JavaFX Composer Plugin for NetBeans.

Tighter integration is featured in NetBeans 6.8 with the Project Kenai collaborative environment. Also, profiling is improved for C/C++ development. Version 6.8 also features backing for JSF 2.0/Facelets, Java Persistence 2.0 and EJB 3.1. Full support is offered for the Atlassian Jira project-tracking and integration framework. NetBeans 6.8 can be downloaded from this Web site.

Sun, meanwhile, plans to seek feedback on needs to be included in a successor Java EE 7 release, according to the company.

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Paul Krill

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