March 27, 2002 -- On day two of the 2002 JavaOne Conference, Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy spoke about the new Java Community Process (JCP) procedures. In my day-two dispatch, I examine what the JCP changes mean for open source projects; I also walk you through three technical sessions and one of the ancillary developer meetings: JBossOne. On the vendor front, today I look closer at Oracle, one of the major Java players, and BEA Systems' JRockit JVM. I wrap with JavaServer Faces (JSF) news.

Read the whole "The JavaOne Grapevine" series:

Keynote news

McNealy led Tuesday's keynote. Beyond his mobile/wireless demonstrations, he announced a change to the JCP's governing rules. The JCP is the vehicle that Sun, other companies, and individuals use to submit Java Specification Requests (JSRs) to extend existing Java functionality or to develop new Java APIs. According to McNealy, the JCP will now allow an expert group "the right, at the expert group's discretion, to release its own Reference Implementation (RI) and/or Test Compatibility Kit (TCK) under an open source license (Apache-style license minimum)." (See the "JBossOne" section below for reaction to the change.)

Historically, the JCP has had its share of detractors from the open source community who believe Sun uses the JCP to proclaim its openness but still retain control over the Java platform. This latest change should address some of those concerns. However, the change does not retrospectively cover the major existing JSRs, most importantly the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) specification.

Technical session notes

The TS-1653: Enterprise JavaBeans 2.1 Specification: Overview and Roadmap session offered good, solid information. Sun Microsystems Senior Staff Engineer Linda DeMichiel presented an information-packed session on the new EJB 2.1 features. She reiterated the importance of supporting Web services in this release. For example, under EJB 2.1, stateless session beans could be invokable Web service endpoints, and all EJBs could invoke Web services via the JAX-RPC (Java API for XML-based remote procedure calls) package.

In contrast to TS-1653, the TS-3043: Why Enterprise JavaBeans 2.X Technology -- Stuff That You Have Never Seen session didn't delve into the level of detail I expected. Presented by BEA Systems Evangelist Tyler Jewell, the session examined developers' reluctance to build fully fledged EJB-centric architectures. Such developer reluctance stems from preconceived notions about performance, scalability, and maintainability that more often relate to fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) than to solid technical reasoning. (For more on such issues, read my "To EJB, or Not to EJB," (JavaWorld, December 2001).)

TS-2180: How to Build an Awesome Java Technology-Enabled Client was a good session. In fact, I wanted more information as the presenters -- Sun Microsystems Staff Engineers Scott Violet, Norbert Lindenberg, and Dale McDuffie -- just got to the good stuff as the session drew to a close. I guess I'll have to wait for the BOF instead.

JBossOne

Like the JavaOne Conference, the attendance at JBossOne, a shadow conference by the JBoss application server group, seems much lower than expected, which is a shame as the two-day conference is packed with in-depth technical sessions from standard topics such as the Java Management Extensions (JMX), to a presentation on JBoss 3.0's new microkernel, embeddable architecture.

Speaking about McNealy's earlier JCP announcement, Marc Fleury, JBoss lead developer, said the changes are "too little, too late." The JCP announcement doesn't cover core specifications for J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition), such as the EJB specification, leaving open source J2EE servers like JBoss in an unclear position. Hopefully, a resolution will soon arise satisfying both the open source community and the commercial J2EE vendors; it's in everyone's interest in the long run.

Vendor report: Oracle

I spent some time at the Oracle booth looking at its Java strategy. In a nutshell, the strategy's main underpinnings comprise the Oracle database, the Oracle Containers for the J2EE (OC4J) application server (based on the Ironflare Orion application server), and the new Oracle 9i JDeveloper IDE.

With those products, Oracle continues to move forward on the Java front. From shaky beginnings (remember how Oracle formerly handled EJBs?!), Oracle now offers a strong J2EE platform in OC4J, which the company has successfully coupled with JDeveloper.

JDeveloper also includes plugins for Business Components for Java (BC4J) -- the company's business objects framework for quickly creating Data Access Objects (DAO) and Java-based application clients for visualization. I'd like to see Oracle submit a BC4J JSR or utilize another mechanism to guarantee that I won't be locked into a vendor-proprietary solution if I use the BC4J framework.

I also chatted with Regis Louis, Oracle senior product manager, about the company's Oracle Forms (a client/server technology with a massive installed user base) strategy. Oracle has launched a number of projects (no details available at the moment) to provide Forms and PL/SQL (Oracle's SQL procedural extension) users with migration paths to standard Java-based presentation and control layers such as JavaServer Pages (JSP) and/or Swing. I believe that such technology migration tools would positively affect how well Oracle performs in the Java space over the long term.

BEA Systems' JRockit JVM

BEA Systems recently began offering free licenses for JRockit JVM, which the company recently acquired from Sweden-based Appeal. The JRockit JVM is optimized for server-side processing (which is why BEA bought it).

JRockit will soon support Itanium and Solaris (what does a vendor mean by "soon"?). I imagine they will have Solaris support quickly, especially if BEA starts packaging JRockit as its default JVM.

JavaServer Faces

Sun Microsystems' Senior Software Engineer Roger Kitain from the JSF team outlined the one project I really hoped would release a specification and RI this week. JSF's functionality, layered on top of the JSP specification, includes change listeners on client-side widgets and a standard tag library (including a tree-view control). I'm working on a project in which such features would come in handy, so if you're listening guys, please release the RI as soon as you can!

Signing off

That's all from JavaOne day two, folks. My day-three dispatch will offer more show news, vendor updates, and technical session tidbits, so tune back in for more.

Humphrey Sheil, a Sun Certified Java Enterprise Architect, has worked on more than 25 enterprise Java projects in Europe and in the US, from initial scoping right through to live. Away from the office, he also researches the parallelization of neural network algorithms on compute clusters for bioinformatics applications at University College Dublin, Ireland.

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