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4/30/2008
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Sony Ericsson's 'Capuchin' Bridges Java, Flash Gap

The handset maker's API will let developers combine the clean user interface of Flash Lite with the stronger back-end capabilities of Java ME.

Cell phone maker Sony Ericsson on Wednesday announced new developer tools that will allow mobile handsets to take advantage of both Sun Microsystems' Java and Adobe's Flash technologies.

The bridge API (application programming interface), code-named "Project Capuchin," combines Java ME's security and complex capabilities with Flash Lite's attractive user interface, Sony Ericsson said. For example, the APIs will allow pure Flash Lite content to be encapsulated in Java ME applications with the help of Sony Ericsson developer tools, making content created by Adobe Flash technology appear as Java ME applications.

Down the line, Project Capuchin may enable more advanced capabilities, such as allowing Flash Lite technology to handle an entire presentation layer and make it possible to create Java ME applications where some or all UI components are defined in Flash.

"Our new bridging technology ... further strengthens our relationship with this community and underscores our ongoing commitment to support an open, healthy, and thriving mobile ecosystem," Rikko Sakaguchi, senior VP with Sony Ericsson, said in a statement. "We are dedicated to exploring opportunities that enable us to provide innovative and energized user experiences. To achieve this, we work with world-class partners and technologies, on both platform and product development."

As mobile technologies go, Java ME represents the conventional wisdom since its introduction in the marketplace in 2002. Sun has always boasted that because of its ubiquitous runtime environment, developers have always been able to design on the PC and transfer apps to the handset with little effort.

But Capuchin is more of a boost for Adobe's Flash Lite distinct developer community than it is for the Java ME faithful. Sun submitted Java ME under the GNU General Public License in December 2006 as the phoneME project. And while it has not given up on its stalwart mobile runtime environment, Sun would rather developers look to its JavaFX Mobile technology as the user interface of choice.

Adobe, on the other hand, gets a foot in the door for Flash Lite and a chance to show off its user interface capabilities, as well as its smaller software footprint than Java.

Sony Ericsson has plans to make its Project Capuchin technology available during the second half of 2008, but will demonstrate how the APIs work in a handful of applications at the JavaOne trade show next week.

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