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The J2ME Mobile Information Device Profile 2.0

  • January 27, 2003
  • By C. Enrique Ortiz
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Sun Microsystems recently released the latest version of the J2ME platform, the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP) version 2.0. The new MIDP 2.0 includes a large set of new features; some important for business-class applications, while the majority of these new features are mainly targeted at the consumer space.

The previous version of MIDP (version 1.0) already provided the foundation needed for business-type applications including HTTP-based network connectivity, local persistence, the ability to operate in disconnected mode, and the ability to write smart applications using Java. Lacking was support for end-to-end security, wide adoption of MIDP by wireless network providers, and attractive MIDP-based devices — this resulted in a lack of useful business applications.

With MIDP 2.0, end-to-end security is now supported. MIDP 2.0 introduces the security concepts of application signing and privileged domains. With application signing applications can be trusted or not based on the ability to corroborate, via the use of a X.509 digital certificate, the application's origin and integrity. And through privileged domains, defined via a policy definition, device vendors and wireless provides can define which APIs are considered restricted. These new features protect the device against unauthorized applications accessing data and functions. Also standard security protocols such as HTTPS, TLS/SSL and WTLS allows for secure transmission by encrypting the data. It is important to understand that MIDP in general is targeted at cellphones and low-end PDAs; the kind of devices that are personal in nature and that are increasingly becoming business tools — thus IT managers must ensure their employees are accessing corporate data in a safe manner, which is why the new security features found in MIDP 2.0 are welcome.

The new MIDP 2.0 also includes support for an enhanced user interface API that allow developers create more functional and attractive business or consumer applications with less effort. It also includes new gaming and media APIs that can be used for business-applications but that are more targeted at the consumer space.

Applicable to both business and consumer applications, MIDP 2.0 has expanded network connectivity support beyond HTTP, with support for UDP datagrams, TCP sockets, and serial port communication, and as mentioned before secure connections. Also new is a powerful feature called the push registry that activates dormant applications when new information is available. For example, with push support, server software can activate an application on the device to notify employees when a new calendar event has been scheduled or a new sales lead generated, even if the application is not currently running.

The new Over-The-Air (OTA) application provisioning standardizes support for client-initiated download of applications over the wireless network. It allows users to find and install authorized applications wirelessly. It also allows application providers to track the installation and removal of applications for billing (or other) purposes. With OTA, your IT department can enforce or ensure that the right application or application version are easily available and in use.

In the year 2003 we should see more wireless Java in the enterprise and in the entertainment space. We should also see major network and device providers supporting MIDP on their devices and introducing new services. 2003 will also bring new APIs such as Web Services for J2ME and the Wireless Messaging API that are key for the creation of new, useful applications and services.

About The Author

C. Enrique Ortiz, an independent wireless software and solutions consultant, is an active participant in the wireless Java community and is the co-author of the Mobile Information Device Profile for J2ME published by John Wiley and Sons. Enrique holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Puerto Rico and has over 13 years of industry experience.

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