Sun grapples with Java portability for Web services

It's a thorny issue

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The thorny issue of Java application portability has resurfaced after Sun Microsystems Inc launched test software and online services to verify ISVs' applications built on the enterprise specification conform to latest community specifications,

Gavin Clarke writes

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Sun used its annual JavaOne developer forum in San Francisco to launch the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) Application Verification Kit (AVK) - first revealed by Computerwire in July 2001. The company also announced the Deployathon to test deployment on J2EE applicatoin servers.

The company said five vendors' software had successfully met the portability requirements of AVK. These are Chordiant Inc, Curious Networks Inc, divine, Flashline Inc and Hewlett-Packard Co. Sun also announced 16 application server vendors are participating in the Deployathon, including BEA Systems Inc, HP and Oracle Corp.

Java portability has bedevilled the Java community because of the way in which it is developed. Core Java specifications like J2EE 1.3 consist of a core set of APIs, but additional non-core APIs also exist that vendors implement in their products.

Vendors justify the addition of APIs to their implementation on the grounds it enables them to add value and differentiate themselves against competitors.

Such measures scupper the notion of application portability across rival products - like application servers - despite denials by Java founder Sun Microsystems Inc.

Portability is vial to web services. ISVs and authors of re-usable software components - who use Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs), part of the J2EE specification - must see their software pass through multiple domains and execute on application servers at different partner or customer sites.

Application server interoperability was partly tackled with introduction of container managed persistence in J2EE 1.3, but vendors - such as IBM and Sun - still intend to enhance their own Java implementations in the name of added value.

Executives for Palo Alto, California-based Sun yesterday again clung to denials that portability remains an issue. Executives said AVK and Deployathon will reduce ISVs' development time and costs because they could now flag-up code in their implementation that does not conform to the J2EE 1.3 specification.

Bruce Glen Martin, Java software division senior product marketing manager, said: "Without the tools ISVs will test the application on a set of different application servers. This is a way of reducing their costs of building and reduce their time to market... you can tune the application around the application server."

AVK consists of two-types of test: static, to examine code; and dynamic, to evaluate code execution on the application server. Results are summarized through a reporting tool and code that doesn't adhere to the J233 1.3 core specification is flagged-up.

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