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Sun’s JavaOne 2009: Business As Usual

New product announcements this year included JavaFX 1.2

In the wake of Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems, many of us questioned whether we would actually see the company's annual JavaOne developer conference and exhibition take place.

Industry commentators and analysts have been postulating over possible the emergence of a new and more commercially driven iteration of the Java programming language and platform. Initial signs of this becoming a reality have come with the announcement of a new Java Store to showcase applications in front the 800 million desktop Java technology users worldwide. So it seemed that overall, it's business at usual at Sun.

Larry Ellison & Scott McNealy at JavaOne 2009 (Photographer: John Todd / Don Feria)

According to the company, the Java Store will contain personal productivity, business and entertainment software presented in an simple user interface that allows users to install applications by dragging them directly onto their computer desktop. Consumers can visit http://store.java.com to sign up for a chance to participate in the Java Store private beta program and developers can visit http://java.sun.com/warehouse to submit applications for the Java Warehouse.

"Java is one of the most ubiquitous and widespread technology platforms the world has ever seen - and its future has never been brighter," said Sun President and CEO Jonathan Schwartz. "The innovations that will be unveiled today, in particular the Java Store, will represent the beginning of a new era for the Java community - one defined by technical brilliance, market innovation and new business opportunities."

The reach of the Java platform now includes: more than 6.5 million Java developers worldwide and more than 7 billion Java devices, including more than 2.6 million mobile devices, 40 million TV set-top boxes and 800 million Java desktops.

Sun's consumer-facing storefront has been brought to light in direct response to what Sun describes as the increasing number of Java developers who have embraced its technology, but have been frustrated at the lack of a clear route to monetization of their work. Built to house Java SE (standard edition) and JavaFX rich Internet applications, Sun hopes that both corporate Java shops and small software startups alike will be able to reach a widening customer audience through this new channel. The Java Store will begin life as a private beta program before its full international roll out. Developers can submit applications to the store's 'Java Warehouse' and, if selected by Sun, their software can progress upward for distribution in the Java Store where it can be delivered to end users via the Java Runtime Environment (JRE).

Frank Cohen, CEO and Founder of PushToTest, produced an excellent set of show comments over the period of the week. Among Cohen's highlighted notes was the fact that Sun Chairman Scott McNealy told the audience "All the way to Mars and the four corners of the world, I'm proud of what you have done with Java."

Cohen himself notes that, "Java is the front-end and middleware in BlueRay video disc players. Demonstrations of JavaFX technology showed very good integration between the user experience and the media delivered on the disc. The BlueRay experience is headed towards what we experience on the desktop: multiple applications open at the same time, alerts, windows, and what looks like a file system."

New product announcements this year included JavaFX 1.2, which includes new cross platform User Interface (UI) controls, faster application start-up, streaming media support and other performance enhancements across desktop, browser and mobile. In addition, JavaFX TV and the Java FX Authoring Tool were previewed at the show. Sun says this is extending the JavaFX vision to bring rich and expressive interactive content to the TV and set-top box environments and allow designers and web developers to visually create JavaFX applications.

"The latest version of JavaFX, combined with updates to Java SE, delivers an enhanced user experience for JavaFX applications," said Jeet Kaul, senior vice president of Java technologies at Sun. "JavaFX opens a vast global market for developers and content authors who want to deploy rich, expressive applications, services and experiences across all the screens of their customers' lives. We continue to strengthen the JavaFX ecosystem by helping to enable more people to create content across more device types and establishing a channel, the Java Store, for developers and ISVs to directly deploy JavaFX applications to hundreds of millions of worldwide Java technology users."

While the Java ecosystem has certainly grown in recent times, there are still areas where Java is comparatively at a standstill. For example, there is no Java on iPhone. PushToTest's Cohen noted that Sun tried to put a positive, even an aggressive, spin on the situation. "For example, Jonathan Schwartz told delegates that JavaFX is available on mobile platforms. To prove the point Schwartz had an executive at RIM talk about the Java experience on Blackberry. In a cleverly crafted statement Schwartz said the top selling smartphone - Blackberry - is a Java phone. He said JavaFX runs on Sony Ericsson, Orange and LG phones." Schwartz also told delegates, "We're shooting for 100s of millions, not 10s of millions," as he took a dig at the iPhone.

Microsoft used its session at JavaOne to talk about its work with the Apache Stonehenge project, which is made up of companies and individual developers who share an interest in testing and establishing interoperability of web standards implementations. The company says it is now extremely focused on server side interoperability to connect heterogeneous systems and made its first contributions to Apache at the start of 2009. As the presenters said, "Middleware is really hard to demo, everybody wants the plumbing fixed but nobody wants to meet the plumber."

Microsoft's contribution to Apache was a sample application called StockTrader 2.0 designed to implement WS-* standards and was designed to demonstrate service-oriented architecture design principles. The company says that, "Interoperability work doesn't stop at the end of the standardization process. In fact, that is where it really starts." Microsoft says that it recognizes that customers want to be able to deploy multiple implementations standards and have the ability to choose the best ones for their scenarios and requirements. This in itself will arguably encourage competition, innovation and ensure the production of better quality software in response to real world market forces.

Making much of the deployment flexibility Sun claims is inherent in OpenSolaris, the company detailed its suitability for running on anything from a single core, right up through to a variety of multi-core environments. As well as a re-architecture of its networking components with technology developed out of Sun's Project Crosbow, the new OpenSolaris release will reportedly feature enterprise-level support that is said to put it on an equal footing with Solaris 10. There is also the addition of Sparc processor support, improved storage technology interfacing, virtualization enhancements and "dozens" of enhancements for developers.

Also making headlines at JavaOne was DTrace, Sun's dynamic tracing framework for the Solaris Operating Environment. Although already in existence for half a decade, DTrace is said to "instrument" software applications dynamically. The instrumentation process (or examination and subsequent configuration management driven analysis of code structure if you prefer) once complete allows an application to be explored at its various different layers (if multi-threaded) so that bottlenecks can be identified and latency issues can be addressed. This can all be done live as the application runs and so is playing a higher role in OpenSolaris 2009.06 in terms of its associated developer tools.

Sun used the JavaOne event to reaffirm its position on the Java landscape and make various product level announcements including several technology updates to the its GlassFish Portfolio. This open source, high-performance web application platform is argued to be the industry's most downloaded application server. Built on leading open source projects, Sun says that the GlassFish Portfolio speeds time to market and improves productivity by offering a pre-integrated and fully-tested open source web application platform. Additionally, Sun used the JavaOne show to announced early access of GlassFish v3 containing a full preview of the forthcoming Java Platform Enterprise Edition 6 (Java EE 6) specification.

"Sun offers virtually the most comprehensive software infrastructure solutions for creating and deploying secure and scalable web and enterprise applications. With GlassFish Portfolio, Sun brings additional simplicity and lower TCO to customers by delivering the highest-scaling and best price-performance application platform. Plus, the early access of GlassFish v3 offers developers a head-start on working with all of the new features of the upcoming Java EE 6 specification, including capabilities for profiles, pruning, extensibility and ease of development," said Karen Tegan Padir, vice president, MySQL and Software Infrastructure at Sun.

Finally, Oracle's Larry Ellison did make an appearance at JavaOne 2009 alongside Scott McNealy himself and if you were wondering what Larry's thoughts are on the future for Java this is what he said. "Oracle has invested more in Java (in terms of dollars) than anybody else. I am determined to expand the Java community and to encourage the Open Office group to build rapidly now. If you want to know more about the future for Java - then just look at its past. I expect very few changes apart from an expanded level of enthusiasm for Java from Oracle."

More Stories By Adrian Bridgwater

Adrian Bridgwater is a freelance journalist and corporate content creation specialist focusing on cross platform software application development as well as all related aspects software engineering, project management and technology as a whole.

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