I'm sitting here in the San Francisco airport waiting for a flight home after spending a few days out here with Sun. I met with representatives from the complete Java spectrum including the main man, Mr. Gosling. It was a good and very worthwhile trip and the one thing I can safely report is that Sun is back! They were a little lost over the past few years, with the poor developer feeling left out in the cold. But they are making major inroads to win back the developer and focus on what they do best - technology.
James Gosling commented that it just became too overwhelming for their engineers to cope with the volume, with James himself fighting some 10,000 e-mails that were vying for attention in his inbox. So they retracted into their shell and answered nobody! The only people you could talk to were the marketing and PR people. No matter who you were. But I can safely report that this is no longer the situation; Sun is open for business again.
I spoke with the main spec lead for J2EE, Mark Hapner, who took me through the upcoming 1.4 release of J2EE, which encompasses Web services support. Mark spoke candidly about the need for WSI integration to J2EE and it more than justified delaying the edition. Many J2EE vendors have been implementing their own WS offering, locking the J2EE developer into a particular application server. The time had come to bring together all the experience and knowledge and incorporate it into the main platform. Now you'll be able to have your EJB exposed as a Web service as easily as a servlet, but developed in such a way that it's completely J2EE compliant.
I then spoke to the Desktop Java team, who were responsible for making sure Swing was a serious alternative for the development of desktop client tools. They've been spending a lot of time on the performance of Swing and now feel they have a serious offering. They sat me down in front of a number of demo apps, including one with a complete XP look-and-feel. I was impressed, until I realized they were showing it on a 2GHz machine. Anything is fast on that sort of machine! Fortunately, they had brought another laptop with them that was a little more realistic and it was acceptable. They did comment that they are presently looking at the time it takes for Java to start up on the desk and trying to improve that. Ironically, it wasn't the startup speed I was looking at, but the actual feel and snappiness of the GUI controls - all very reactive.
One of the new things that will be introduced soon is the ability for Java to update itself with the latest version, something similar to the Windows updater. This is to ensure that as many people as possible are always on the latest version, thus giving Java the best possible chance.
Next it was J2ME. I was taken through the new standards to come out of MIDP 2.0 and where they were driving that particular movement. With the number of Java handsets now outnumbering desktop PCs, there was a buzz of excitement. That said, it's important not to get too excited with that number, as it's a bit like Apple saying they now have the largest Unix user base in the world; the majority of their users are completely oblivious to the fact that they are indeed part of that statistic.
I met with the JCP folks and you can find how that went within this issue of JDJ. On the whole, I had a lot of information thrown at me and I still have to sit down and listen through all the meetings again, so expect more information coming at you very soon. I would like to thank Laura Ramsey and Corina Ulescu, who between the two of them ensured my day went smoothly and that I met everyone I needed to. Thank you.
Catch me on my blog.
When not answering your e-mails and working on the next issue of JDJ, Alan heads up a small team dubbed the "Thunderbirds of the Java industry," providing on- and offsite rescue for Java projects in trouble. For more information visit www.javaSOS.com.
You can also read his blog: http://alan.blog-city.com.