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J2ME fragmentation "thing of the past" says JCP. (APP Dev News Review).

Fragmentation of Java--it's possible on mobile devices, but will be ultimately defeated once a proposed specification is finalized by the Sun Microsystems Inc-backed Java Community Process (JCP).

That's the conclusion of JCP members at a round table this week, who accepted Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) has seen too many competing implementations but feel it will end with the forthcoming Java Technology for the Wireless Industry (JTWI).

Members responded following a Borland Software Corp panel discussion at Sun's JavaOne 2003 last week, at which a consensus emerged that Java is fragmenting and that the JCP is both too big and responding too slowly to effectively change Java.

Borland panelists included systems integrators, consultants, analysts and vendor Tibco Software Inc, all knowledgeable in the areas of Java, web services and integration.

The present state of J2ME was singled out by Borland's group as proof fragmentation exists. The explosion in the different types of low-power, small-footprint devices in recent years has meant J2ME can is used on a variety of devices from set-top boxes to cell phones, each with different requirements.

Carriers and cell phone manufacturers, meanwhile, often implement specific J2ME APIs according to their own needs, a fact that ensures developers are challenged when building applications across multiple carrier services or manufacturers' devices. The ultimate result is J2ME an adoption challenge, despite frequent cheer leading by Sun.

Speaking this week, Symbian Ltd strategic product manager for Java and JCP executive committee member, Jonathan Allen, said JTWI would resolve J2ME's growing fragmentation. "We have had fragmentation, but that will be less as we go forward," Allen said.

JTWI includes Sun's Connected Limited Device Configuration (CLDC) 1.0, Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) 2.0 and Wireless Messaging API (WMI) and Mobile Media API (MMPI).

Texas Instruments Inc research director Marion Lineberry, also a JCP J2ME executive committee member, said fragmentation occurred because operators had implemented different J2ME as-and-when they became available. "We have been playing catch-up to get a full Java platform in the mobile space," Lineberry said.

Timing, though, could be a critical factor in JTWI's success. Fifty million J2ME devices already exist, according to Sun who claims mobile devices will this year out ship PCs. That's a lot of noncompliant devices running multiple J2ME implementations.

JTWI has entered its final ballot phase, due to conclude by July 1. Subject to approval, JTWI's uptake will then depend on the people who make the products.

Don Deutsch, Oracle vice president of standards, strategy and architecture and a JCP executive committee member for desktop and server-side Java, admitted some Java Specification Requests (JSRs) do stick, but overall he believes the JCP moves fast.

"If you have a [software] stack and consensus, you can proceed quickly," said Deustch

Allen said the JCP's pace helps ensure that JSRs, and resulting changes to Java, are properly reviewed, creating a secure platform. "It's a painful process getting those standards established, but we have to make sure we have the same goals. There's no quick fix. We have to make sure we get them right," Allen said.

Concerns, remain though, about whether the JCP's size, roughly 700 members, and the bureaucracy are not just slowing it down but also dampening innovation. IBM Corp, for example, is using Eclipse to build its own community around tools while a number of popular industry alternatives are emerging to JCP technologies, such as Log 4 J instead of Java 1.4 logging API from the JCP.

JCP members believe rather than innovation stopping, the shape of innovation is changing, requiring less JSRs that tackle the basic infrastructure. Java's early days saw JSRs and APIs submitted to help establish basic functionality while today's JSRs tackle refinements and advancements around scalability, availability and stability, according to JCP program management office director Onno Kluyt.

BEA Systems Inc, for example, is backing JSRs 181 and 207 for web services and process definition based on Sun's JSR 175 for metadata.

Ed Cobb, BEA's vice president of architecture and standards and also an executive committee member for Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE), said such refinements are important to help the community hit the frequently touted target of Visual Basic and corporate developers, inexperienced in Java.

"You see JSRs attract that level of developer who are focussed on meta data," Cobb said.
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Publication:MarketWatch: Application Development
Date:Jun 27, 2003
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