Sun Microsystems is rapidly building out the Java language's support structure to make it a better platform for implementing both business-process and Web-services applications.
Sun will team up with Oracle to make it easier to build reusable Java components, known as Enterprise JavaBeans, says Joe Keller, Sun's VP of Web services and tools. The two companies are working together on the reference implementation of Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0, which will be part of Java Enterprise Edition 5.0, due in the first quarter of next year, Keller says. J2EE consists of the Java Standard Edition core programming language, 5.0, plus a lot of supporting technologies accessed through APIs.
Enterprise JavaBeans are resources that can be called over the network to supply software services, but within the Java programming discipline there has always been two different ways of storing them in relational databases, a process called object-relational mapping. To be stored, the software component must be broken down into its data elements.
"To this day, the data persistence models in Enterprise JavaBeans and Java Data Objects differ significantly. This divergence has caused confusion and debates among Java developers," Sun acknowledged in a letter to the Java community that it posted to its java.sun.com site earlier this year. The Java specification 220 was drafted through the Java Community Process, a Java-vendor technology alliance, to combine the two object-mapping approaches.
Sun and Oracle will produce a reference implementation of it the Java specification 220 together. A reference implementation resolves ambiguities in a text specification by showing developers how Enterprise JavaBeans should be built, says Rick Schultz, Oracle's VP of product marketing.
Oracle will adapt its relational-to-object mapping technology, acquired with its acquisition of TopLink in 2002 from WebGain Inc., to Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0. TopLink generates object-to-relational mapping to give Enterprise JavaBeans persistence, or the ability to be stored in a relational database and then retrieved and rebuilt from relational data for reuse, he said.
Typically JavaBeans are generated from a class library by a running application, used for a specific purpose and discarded when they're no longer needed. Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0 will make it easier to store and reinvoke JavaBeans from a database with the new object-to-relational mapping. Gaining Enterprise JavaBean persistence will help Sun and other Java vendors build out a Java services-oriented architecture platform, where Java software functions exist as services instead of being buried in monolithic applications.
To aid the building of business-process applications, Sun says it has lined up support from 19 companies for Java Business Integration, an addition to the Java environment that it has specified as a way to assemble services. Java Business Integration provides a means for integration technologies, such as an enterprise service bus and Web services, to collaborate, Mark Bauhaus, Sun's VP of Java Web services, said in a statement.
Oracle, Sun, and other Java technology vendors are expected to offer more support for business processes built from various Java software services, drawn from different systems, giving Java users greater flexibility in responding to changing business conditions. Supporters of the Java Business Integration specification revealed this week include Capgemini, Fair Isaac, JBoss, Sonic Software, and Tibco Software.
A future release of the core language, Java Standard Edition 6.0, code-named Mustang, is expected in the summer of 2006. The Mustang version will get better XML handling capabilities and a Microsoft Longhorn Windows look and feel for end-user presentations, Graham Hamilton, Sun's VP and research fellow, said in an address at JavaOne.
Java Standard Edition 7.0, code-named Dolphin and expected in early 2008, will support "dynamic" scripting languages that are often used to rapidly build application prototypes or tie together diverse elements on a Web site.