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About three months ago, my two-year old son discovered the word "cup." He would call everything a cup, though he had no clue what a cup was. Finally we figured out a way for him to call a cup a cup ­ we pointed to a cup every time he uttered the word. In my technological world of J2EE, I could map this activity to certification and verification.

Today the market for J2EE is mature enough that application and framework alternatives are available from several competing sources. As a result, there's a need for standard metrics and credentials that can be used by companies to evaluate short-list vendor solutions for their specific requirements. From the solution providers' perspective, credentials help them get their foot into a prospective client's door. From a technical perspective, these credentials can take the following forms:

  • The technical team's profile
  • The maturity and reliability of their product suite in the context of the client's environment
Given the existing and growing base of J2EE architects and developers in the market, the personal profile of each team member plays a large role. This is where certification comes in. Various levels of Java certification that address different facets of J2EE are offered by Sun Microsystems, as well as other major Java proponents like IBM and Oracle. At the same time, major application server vendors such as BEA and IBM offer their own certification that verifies the ability of a person to use J2EE in their app server­specific environments.

When building a J2EE-based solution, a major concern of a solution provider is the viability of the tools and development frameworks used. And one of the biggest messages of the Java platform is that it's portable. Sun helped bring the message together with their J2EE Blueprints and Pet Store reference application.

The basic premise of J2EE portability is the ability of an application to function across multiple application servers, which is where verification comes in. The good news is that the recently released Java Verification Program from Sun Microsystems addresses this issue. It's designed to identify enterprise applications developed with J2EE technology and intended to be portable across different J2EE implementations. The program outlines the tests needed to receive the Java verification certification. Products that complete the Java AVK for the Enterprise testing process can apply for the Java Verification Program and Trademark license. More information on the Java Verification Program can be found at http://java.sun.com/j2ee/verified/index.html.

Several app-server vendors offer add-ons that may not be portable across other app servers, but provide a tremendous value-add.

For example, Macromedia has developed their own version of the Pet Store called the Pet Market ­ touted as a "rich Internet application" ­ built on Macromedia's MX family of products. According to Macromedia, the Pet Market serves as a blueprint for best practices for usability, architecture, and coding. The Pet Market serves as a reference application for portability across a J2EE application server for server-side components, and portability across commerce platforms for Web applications. I call this a combination of good technology, good sense, and good marketing.

As their initiatives mature, there's a growing need for good reference sources in the market to guide developers through the design process.

.  .  .

I would like to mention a couple of good books I picked up from a new publisher ­ Apress. Java Collections is an excellent reference with clear and concise examples. And Java FrontEnd Technologies had some very useful guidelines for JSP and servlet design in the context of J2EE.

Author Bio
Ajit Sagar is the J2EE editor of JDJ and the founding editor of XML-Journal. Ajit is the director of engineering with Controlling Factor, a leading B2B software solutions firm based in Dallas, and is well versed in Java, Web services, and XML technologies. [email protected]

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