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The saying goes, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." The world rewards innovation and improvement. It likes new things. This month's focus is on new Java technology. Given the rapid pace of development in our area, that's not quite the oxymoron that it appears. New specifications, new releases, new products come out almost daily. Last year SUN released the 1.0 specification for Enterprise JavaBeans. I can name a dozen products that implement the 1.0 specification at this point, and that number is likely to grow before it shrinks. More recently, the Java 2.0 release became available to the general public. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either old news to you, or too bleeding edge to consider yet.

One of the most invigorating things about Java (for me, at least) is the way the technology advances at such a rapid pace. At this rate, the improvement you need is just around the corner. For other people, this is a difficult issue. Maintenance of code through various releases is a problematic area. As a consultant I frequently see shops that are three, even four releases behind the current release of their primary development tool. Migrating code to the current version is often an arduous process. And yet the pace of the industry requires making the investment in updates. Often, only the current and next-to-last versions of a development package are supported by the vendor (thus ensuring a continuing revenue stream for updates, but somebody has to pay for all the improvements). So far, Java has completely deprecated an existing event model, done major surgery on its windowing toolkit and released a flurry of new specifications. Not bad for a 2.0 product.

Back to EJB for a second. One of the press releases I received recently discussed the use of EJB to provide for the registration of thousands of college students at a major East Coast university. This is one of the first large-scale success stories to date concerning EJB. The OMG group (the CORBA people) has been very active working with SUN and the various EJB vendors to marry CORBA and EJB. This marriage helps secure EJB as the emerging standard for distributed computing.

One of the newest APIs to emerge from SUN is the JTA specification. JTA is Java Transaction API, and is a higher level specification that will supersede Java Transaction Service (JTS), which will remain as a low-level protocol. JTA is tied to the EJB specification and is really an attempt to improve the basic flaw of JTS - no two-phase commit. JTA will include support for the XA protocol, which is the industry standard for heterogeneous transactions.

I don't expect the pace of development to slacken anytime soon. Although the Java language itself is somewhat more mature with Java 2 than it was in its infancy, other tools and products have still to emerge. Testing Java applications is still in the startup phase, with products from SUN emerging to compete with existing products that are scrambling to adapt to Java testing. Source code control is also expanding. In short, we're watching the birth of the Java third-party market.

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]


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