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Special Report: State of the Java Art

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Happy Trails at JavaOne:
The Java Platform Roadmap
Today and tomorrow were front and center at the technical general session of Sun's 2006 JavaOne Conference
by Peggy Aycinena

JavaOne, May, 2006

Today and tomorrow were front and center at the technical general session of Sun Microsystems' mega-event, the 2006 JavaOne Conference in San Francisco.

Following the hype and buzz of the opening general session, the 90-minute event was a refreshing change of pace and chockfull of information for the 1000 or more attendees who gathered in the cavernous underground hall at Moscone Center to hear about the "Java Platform Roadmap."


The crowd got an earful—first, about the October 2006 release of the Java SE6 "Mustang" standard edition of Sun's flagship software product, and then about the "available-now" Java EE5 enterprise edition. The speakers tasked with describing the two elements of the platform roadmap, Vice President & Sun Fellow Graham Hamilton and Sun Distinguished Engineer Bill Shannon, were equally enthusiastic about the Java community involvement in Java SE6 and Java EE5. If you didn't know better, you'd think both products were open-source, but they're not.

Java EE5—similar to Sun's Solaris OS—is open-source and freely available to all. Java SE6, on the other hand, is at the center of a growing controversy as to when, if ever, Sun will open source its standard edition of Java. Both press and users are clamoring for Sun to make that move; Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz hinted during the morning keynote, "It's not a question of whether, it's a question of how." So far, no definitive date has been set.

Controversy notwithstanding, Hamilton and Shannon went about reporting on updates to the Java Platform with style. Hamilton set October 2006, as the release date for Mustang, and announced Java SE7 "Dolphin" would be available in the second half of 2008.

He said, "There will be no 2.0 release of Java SE6. The next release will be Java SE7 Dolphin. We're trying to focus on a major release every 18 months to two years." He quickly added, "Of course, we do ship patch releases, but those are a relatively small collection of bug fixes."

Then he launched into a spirited recap of the community involvement associated with the run up to the production release of Mustang. "In previous releases of Java SE," he said, "we did a whole lot of engineering at Sun. With Mustang, we've tried to involve the community much earlier in the process. Every week, we're publicly posting the internal builds. You can see both the good and the bad, and that's for a couple of reasons. By giving you the latest build every week, it's much easier for you to give us the fixes. It's been a very successful experiment so far, and is working out quite well. We're getting higher quality [built into the code] at a much earlier point in the process, and there will be [even more] working with the community with Dolphin."

Hamilton ran through a long list of changes incorporated into Mustang including:

  • Improvements to the look-and-feel.
  • Upgrades in Windows and Gnome support.
  • Support for the pending Microsoft Vista OS release.
  • Measurable performance boosts from Java SE5 to SE6.
  • Assorted API upgrades.
  • Enhanced protocol and Web services support.

Hamilton reassured his audience: "There are many changes in systemic properties and numerous new features in the Mustang release, but the compatibility, stability, and quality [of the product] remain unchanged. I've always said these things are 'Job Number 1' at Sun, and that remains the case."

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