Sun Microsystems on Wednesday is releasing a beta version of the next desktop version of Java, codenamed Project Mustang and officially known as Java Platform Standard Edition 6 (Java SE 6).
Highlights of the release include a Web 2.0-based theme focused on Web services and scripting language support, as well as enterprise desktop features and diagnostics.
Web 2.0, an industry concept in which the Web becomes the applications platform, is enabled by support of multiple, non-Java-based scripting languages such as PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor). Web services boosts include support for Web services specifications such as JAX-WS 2.0 (Java API for XML Web Services) and JAXB 2.0 (Java Architecture for XML Binding). Publishing of Web services on Java SE 6 has been made easier as well.
"Now, we've got a whole Web services client stack built in the platform as well as new support for scripting languages," said Bill Curci, product marketing manager for Java SE at Sun.
The final, general release of Java SE 6 is due this fall. Java SE 6 will function with the upcoming Java Platform Enterprise Edition 5 (JEE 5) release. Features of Java SE 6 are expected to be incorporated into a version of JEE following the 5 version.
Diagnostics improvements in the release were cited by Curci. "There's some really neat extensions, I think, for developers and administrators coming into this version of the platform that are all about making the platform and application more observable," Curci said. Specifically, an expanded Java management exchange API allows for dynamically attaching to a running application.
"You don't have to start up the application knowing you want to profile it," but can decide to later, using a Java management console, Curci said.
Desktop enhancements include tighter integration with desktop facilities. Through this Java applications are now better able to emulate the native platform look and feel, text printing drag and drop capabilities, table display and manipulation. This applies to the Solaris, Windows, and Linux OSes. Support for the upcoming Windows Vista OS also has been improved.
Specifically for Java applications running on the Solaris platform, Java SE 6 features expanded DTrace functionality to examine processes running on Solaris.
The user experience for Java Web Start also has been improved. Java Web Start enables applications to be deployed through a Web site and run on the client system, with security protection provided by the Java sandbox.
Additionally, the new release eases development with tool interface updates for the Java Virtual Machine and Java Platform Debugger Architecture.
To improve developer participation in Java SE 6, Project Mustang provides simplified licensing, weekly source and binary snapshots, a contribution process, and active forums and blogs. To ensure compatibility amongst Java releases, Sun with Java SE 6 is sponsoring a Regressions Challenge contest for developers to find compatibility issues and earn the opportunity to win a Sun Ultra 20 workstation. The contest runs through March 31.