JavaOne - Let the Games Begin - Day 1

by Sue Spielman

The 2002 JavaOne conference kicked off today and the focus we are told in this mornings keynote is "back to basics". That's good news for developers as Pat Sueltz Executive VP of Software Systems Group at Sun noted. The focus is more on developers, more on technology, less on marketing. As the operating system is now considered the commodity (hasn't it been for awhile now?), the application space is where it's at.

This didn't seem like ground breaking news to me. With constant mention of the Java Community Process (JCP) and over 500 companies involved in it, we are expecting some talk of 'open source' throughout the conference, as mentioned by Rich Green VP of Java & XML in this morning's keynote.

But for now, let's talk about Web Services. It was pointed out today that the hype surrounding Web Services might be ahead of the requirements and standards, but there is certainly enough available to start taking notice. Still, I expect the ride to be a little bumpy for a while.

Full blown Web Services (WS) will be rolled out in J2EE 1.4 slated for Q1 2003. But there's plenty to be had before then. You know there is a big pow in a punch when even the acryomn associated with it is being shortened. The Java Web Services Developers Pack (WSDP), or just "The Pack" as it's being called, will more than likely be touching your Java life sometime in the near future. WS are those that run on internet protocols (like HTTP, HTTPS, SOAP), are described well enough for interoperbility (using WSDL), and can be found in a registry (UDDI, ebXML Reg/Rep).

For those of us who have been around awhile, this sounds very CORBA- and RMI-like, but that's just because it is. However now we see the flair of interoperbility which is a key feature of The Pack. Everything being delivered in The Pack is destined to be rolled into J2EE 1.4.

For people looking to start WS development, the way to do it today is using The Pack. It is chock full of acryonms, even for a seasoned vetern. The tutorial alone is running about more then 500 pages, so that should give you a hint. But don't get scared off, just take it in smaller pieces.

The Pack is made up of: Java XML Pack, JSTL, Ant, Tomcat, an Installer, Admin tools, examples, tutorials, UDDI test registry, and a partridge in a pear tree. Instead of having to download 50 or more downloads, it has been packaged in a one-click download and installer that, as of EA2 which just came out last week, can also be installed on MacOS X.

The entire Pack is based on J2EE 1.3.1. The Java XML pack includes; JAXP, JAX-RPC, JAXM, JAXR. All of these technologies cover different aspects of the WS environment. Some highlights:

JAXP API's cover processing & transformation (SAX2,DOM2, XML Schema, Xerces-2, Xalan-XSLTC which is used for high performance transformations.

JAX-RPC is for synchronous messaging. The JSR-101 is still ongoing, but right now you have Servlet endpoints in the specification. Expect EJB endpoints to become available in J2EE 1.4.

JAXM 1.0 is more focused on document mapping and not RPCs

JAXR is used on the client side to deal with abstracting registries like UDDI and ebXML Reg/Rep. While SOAP 1.1 is currently being supported in The Pack, 1.2 will be integrated later.

JSTL 1.0 is in beta right now. This is the Java Standard Tag Library that is providing iteration, conditional, Expression Language, and XML manipulation custom tags. The XML tags will probably play the most prominent role in the WS arena. Look for the Expression Lanuguage support to get moved into the JSP 1.3 spec being working on now. Also, look for optimized containers for JSTL tags. Already there is work being done to optimize Tomcat for the tags, so expect some performance improvements on the horizon.

Look for the FCS of The Pack this June. Basically, if you want to be ready for J2EE 1.4, get your hands on The Pack and start fiddling around with it.

Other interesting happenings;
JAXB for doing data binding to Java objects. There's more to come on this. Expect a J2SE 1.4.1 (code name Hopper), a bug fix release and full Itanium support due in the Fall of this year, followed by J2SE 1.4.2 (code name Mantis), in the first half of 2003. J2SE 1.5 (code name Tiger), will be out for the end of 2003 and will be focused on RAS (quality, monitoring, managibility, performance, scalablilty). On the J2EE front, 1.4 is due on Q1 of 2003 and will have the Java WSDP rolled into it.

Till tomorrow.