Java Developer's Journal was among the many exhibitors at the Java Business Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. I was only able to make it for one day, but I managed to pack a great deal of interviewing, observation and conversation into that day, in addition to presenting our Editor's Choice Awards. (See JDJ Vol. 4, Issue 1.)
Probably the biggest news from the show was the renaming of the JDK 1.2 and its accompanying APIs to Java 2. This move is a signal from Sun that some changes are happening with Java, and that now is the time to take notice. One important change is in the way other vendors will license the Java platform. The so-called "Cold Room" vendors - those who develop to the specifications from Sun, but who don't use their code - may find it easier to come in from the cold with the new licensing. Additionally, Sun has relaxed on the requirement that innovators assign back to Sun the rights to all improvements. Grumbling from vendors at the show indicated that perhaps these moves were not enough, but only time will tell.
Interestingly enough, these moves may prove disastrous for Java. Why? Look at the SQL standard, then try to find one vendor who fully supports it. Each database vendor has its own proprietary, value-added version of SQL. Granted, the early SQL specifications lacked enough detail for procedural language, forcing the vendors to create their own, but as a result, you can't write a stored procedure in Oracle and expect it to run in an SQL Server or DB2. While the Java specifications are much more detailed, the license changes may allow for such differentiation. It'll be interesting to see how these changes are accepted and implemented.
I had a chance to have a good long talk with the IBM guys concerning their Application Server offerings. IBM announced their WebSphere Enterprise edition, which integrates EJB support into their WebServer offering. This announcement is less compelling than the overall story that IBM can tell in the Server arena.
What they offer that's unique is the ability to interoperate with a large variety of clients, servers and operating systems. Add to that database support on any platform you care to name, asynchronous messaging through MQSeries, and platform-specific native compilers that turn byte code into native code, and you have a potent offering. Overall an evolutionary - rather than revolutionary - product offering, but attractive nonetheless, especially to those businesses with a significant investment in IBM technology.
BEA was another server vendor that I spent time with. BEA recently acquired Weblogic and has renamed the company BEA/WebXpress. WebLogic was one of the first EJB servers, and with the addition of the expertise of the BEA Tuxedo staff - particularly the expanded support organization - WebLogic looks to be one of the servers that'll survive the inevitable thinning of this particular field.
I also stopped by the NuMega booth for a look at some of their tools. They've developed a particularly interesting thread monitor that can identify deadlocks and other thread-related errors that are particularly difficult to track down. The tools only run under NT, but since most development is done there, NuMega feels that it's not that big of a disadvantage. There are also a number of diagnostic and testing tools appearing on the market, which should provide some relief to those of us trying to figure complex programming errors out with println statements.
I'm sorry that I had only a single day to spend at the JiBE show. Sun, as befits their position as the parent of the whole movement, had a huge set-up that I didn't get a good chance to explore. On the whole though, I found that the two biggest topics of the show were the Java 2 release and the rise of the EJB Application Server. I look for this to be an interesting year for development.
About the Author
Sean Rhody is the editor-in-chief of Java Developer's Journal. He is also a senior consultant with Computer Sciences Corporation, where he specializes in application architecture - particularly distributed systems.He can be reached by e-mail at [email protected]