Sun pours out latest flavour of Java

Builder: Version 5.0 of Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE) offers improved performance and makes it easier for developers to create code, Sun has claimed
Written by Ingrid Marson, Contributor

Sun Microsystems on Thursday released version 5.0 of the Java 2 Platform Standard Edition (J2SE), also known as Project Tiger. Sun claims that J2SE 5.0 is the most significant upgrade to the Java platform and programming language in nearly a decade, containing over 100 new features.

Aaron Williams, the manager of the Java Community Process (JCP), which carries out changes and upgrades to the Java platform, said that the main two changes in J2SE 5.0, previously known as J2SE 1.5, are application performance improvements and ease of use.

Sun claims that J2SE 5.0 can be started up quicker, has a smaller memory footprint, and allows the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) to be auto-tuned to further increase performance.

J2SE 5.0 includes various tools that aim to make the development of code easier. One of these tools is Metadata, which can be used to allow Java classes to be created automatically. Williams said one use of Metatags would be to simplify distributed computing by automatically generating RMI stub and skeleton classes.

Other improvements in the platform include language changes, such as an optimised for loop, and a new look and feel to the default Java GUI.

The new specification and implementation has been developed through the JCP, a community of developers from various organisations that is responsible for changes to the Java platform.

JCP members includes companies, such as IBM, Nokia and Oracle; open-source organisations such as the Apache Software Foundation, JBoss and MySQL, and individual members, such as James Strachen.

Sacha Labourey, European general manager at JBoss Inc, which provides services for the open-source application server, said that the company has been part of the JCP since 2004. He said that the JCP is more open than in the past, but still needs to become more inclusive to boost innovation.

He believes that JBoss does not have enough of a role in the process of deciding specification changes.

"Recently Sun announced a change in the Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) specification. The decision was taken unilaterally -- we were only told once it had been decided. It's a bit frustrating," said Labourey.

Williams responded that although only one person is responsible for delivering a particular change in the specification, an expert group and committee can influence the decision.

"If a rogue specification leader says 'EJBs will be my way or the highway' and chooses friends for his expert group then the executive committee, which is voted in by the Java community, still have a check over it," said Williams.

Williams said that although Sun leads almost half of the specification groups, known as JSRs, this is merely because it is more committed to Java than other companies.

"We invest more than other companies in Java. It's our brand. We believe in it and have drunk the Kool Aid," said Williams.

The J2SE 5.0 platform and JRE is available for download on the Sun Web site.

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