Sun has released version 6 of the Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE), along with version 3 of the GlassFish application server and the open source NetBeans 6.8 development environment, both supporting the new version of Java.
Java, Sun's widely used software platform, is developed through the Java Community Process (JCP), which involves input from players including large organisations such as Google, HP and IBM, as well as open source groups such as Apache and Eclipse.
The main introduction with the new specification, released on Thursday, is Profiles, which target the platform at specific application scenarios, Sun said.
One example is the Web Profile, designed specifically for web applications and intended to allow the quick construction of applications without the need to build and manage a full set of enterprise features, Sun said. The JCP is expected to define more profiles in the future, according to the company.
Other new features include version 3.1 of Enterprise Java Beans (EJB), version 2.0 of JavaServer Faces (JSF) and version 3.0 of the specification for servlets, which are Java programming language objects that dynamically process requests and construct responses.
GlassFish is Sun's reference implementation of Java in the form of an application server, and Sun on Thursday released version 3 of both the commercial GlassFish Enterprise Server and its open-source counterpart, termed simply GlassFish v3.
The new GlassFish is the first application server to support Java EE 6, along with the Java EE 6 Web Profile, Sun noted. It is based on a modular OSGi runtime, and works with the Eclipse Equinox and Apache Felix implementations of OSGi. The OSGi framework is a module system for Java that implements a complete and dynamic component model.
The use of OSGi means an application can load only the modules needed, helping to keep the code footprint as small as possible, thus reducing startup time and resource utilisation, Sun said. The company's internal benchmarks found GlassFish Enterprise Server v3 startup times were more than twice as fast as v2, or nearly three times as fast when using the Web Profile.
The server supports languages including JRuby, Python and PHP and can be linked with .Net 3.5-based web services. The enterprise version is priced starting at $999 (£612) per server, Sun said.
Version 6.8 of the NetBeans integrated development environment (IDE) supports the new Java EE 6 elements and introduces some new developer features, including support for PHP 5.3, tighter integration with Project Kenai — a collaborative environment for hosting open source projects — and better C/C++ profiling, Sun said.
NetBeans 6.8 also improves support for the JavaFX internet application platform, the JSF 2.0 framework for building web-based user interfaces, the Java Persistence 2.0 framework, Enterprise Java Beans 3.1 and RESTful web services, among other features.
Sun is in the process of being acquired by Oracle, which has created uncertainty over the future of Sun's Java software, including GlassFish and NetBeans. In October, Oracle specified that it would continue to "actively" support the GlassFish community, despite the fact that GlassFish overlaps with Oracle's WebLogic Server.
Oracle also voiced support for NetBeans, while acknowledging the IDE's overlaps with two other developer tools, Oracle JDeveloper and Oracle Enterprise Pack for Eclipse.