NEW YORK -- Sun Microsystems has released version 1.3 of the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE).
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It's the first full release of the platform since December 1999 and the first to come from Sun's joint technology-building Java Community Process.
The most significant part of the release is a new specification for Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB), the Java architecture for distributed enterprise software components. Sun is hoping it will become a standard for integrating back-end applications, such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems, with any J2EE 1.3-compatible application server.
According to Sun fellow and distinguished engineer James Gosling, the EJB 2.0's Java Connector specification offers a standard way of using Java to build Web applications and services to link them to legacy systems. Gosling is considered by many to be the 'father' of Java -- responsible for designing the architecture and the original implementation of the software.
The Connector specification, Gosling said, is designed to provide a cheaper and faster method of building 'connectors,' which essentially make legacy applications look like Enterprise JavaBeans to Java programs.
At present, companies that need to integrate their back-end legacy systems with J2EE apps either wrap the legacy code as a Java component or turn to proprietary enterprise application integration tools. Wrapping legacy code is time-consuming and costly, while custom enterprise application integration tools, besides being proprietary, are expensive. The combination of J2EE and the Java Connector architecture lets developers focus on the business logic part of the application, said Gosling.
EJB 2.0 uses the Internet InterOrb protocol so that an Enterprise JavaBean sitting on an IBM server can communicate with platforms on other servers than those by IBM or Sun. Additionally, the Enterprise JavaBeans query language enables a developer to find Enterprise JavaBeans services.
Gosling said a series of connectors are already available for linking software to IBM's CICS, PeopleSoft, SAP's R/3 and Oracle, as well as to platforms by e-commerce vendors such as BroadVision, Commerce One and i2 Technologies. Sun worked with 23 partners to finalize the new EJB 2.0 specification, including Art Technology Group, BEA, Borland, HP, IBM, Oracle, SilverStream and Sybase.
J2EE services are performed in the middle tier, between the user's browser and the enterprise's databases and legacy information systems. It comprises a specification, reference implementation and set of testing suites; its core component is Enterprise JavaBeans, followed by JavaServer Pages (JSP), Java Servlets and a variety of interfaces for linking to the information resources in the enterprise.
The J2EE interfaces include JDBC for databases, JNDI for directories and JTA for transactions; the J2EE 1.3 release adds JMS for messaging. JMS allows a Java application to create, send and receive messages asynchronously, and it connects Java programs to messaging middleware such as IBM's MQSeries and Tibco's Rendezvous.
Gosling said the release also includes XML translation and filter support for dynamic Web publishing, based on Java Servlet and JSP technologies. JSP, by extending Sun's Java Servlet technology (a simple programming vehicle for displaying dynamic content on a Web page), provides HTML pages with embedded Java source code that is executed in the Web server or application server. Until now, JSPs have played second fiddle to Microsoft's Active Server Pages, but the XML enhancement is designed to encourage XML programmers to use active Java elements on Web pages.
Gosling said there were already 18 vendors with J2EE 1.3-compatible applications.
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