Java update warms to scripting languages

Developers have welcomed Sun's release of Java Standard Edition 6, which gives better support for scripting languages and web services
Written by Martin LaMonica, Contributor on

Sun has released a Java development kit that seeks to meld Java and scripting languages.

Java Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6), released on Monday, is used to create Java programs that run on desktop PCs. It was launched at an event in London.

Java SE 6 includes enhancements that let programmers write applications in Java as well as scripting languages, said Sun executives. The Java update complies with Java Specification Request 223, which lets scripting languages, including JavaScript and Python, run on the Java Virtual Machine.

"If you have a team of developers with a mix of skills, it's nice to have the flexibility to bring different languages together elegantly," said Jean Elliott, senior director of Java platform product marketing at Sun. "You could have hacked it in the past, but now it's easier."

The creation of a standard scripting framework, complete with a shared scripting engine, was welcomed by Java developer DJ Walker-Morgan.

Walker-Morgan explained that until now, Java developers have had to rely on "language specific" scripting tricks to bind a script language with Java, or use IBM's Bean Scripting Framework.

Scripting, or dynamic, languages are becoming an increasingly popular way to write web applications, particularly the front-end user interface. The language PHP, for example, is used in millions of public sites, such as web portals Lycos and Yahoo.

With the latest version of the Java software, a company could have a group of developers write server Java programs, which do tasks such as complex calculations and database look-ups, while scripting developers create the user interface.

In addition, the update will include software from a project called Project Tango, which is meant to improve the interoperability between Microsoft .Net web services and Java programs, Sun executives said. For example, Tango makes it easier to bridge the Microsoft security model with that of Java, Elliot said.

Sun on Monday also said its open-source development tool NetBeans 5.5 supports Java SE 6 and the related development toolkit.

"This is a good solid consolidation of Java technologies which is exactly what Java needed before fully entering the FOSS arena and an excellent try out of developing 'in the open' for Sun," commented Walker-Morgan, who writes a regular column on Java for Builder UK.

ZDNet UK's Graeme Wearden contributed to this report.

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