Java EE 6 is now a done deal.
On the heels of last week’s vote to ratify the new Java specification, Sun Microsystems, the leader of the Java community, today formally announced the release of Java EE 6.
Along with the news, Sun today also released Glassfish version 3—the first Java EE 6-compliant Java server—as well as NetBeans 6.8 IDE, which also includes full Java EE 6 support.
With the releases, Sun (NASDAQ: JAVA) is providing the first major update to the Java EE platform in over three years. This month also marks another significant milestone with the tenth anniversary of the first J2EE release (the former name of Java EE) in 1999.
“Java EE 6 is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it continued the development, maturation and innovation of the standard for enterprise Java development,” Kevin Schmidt, director of product management and marketing for Sun’s Application Platform organization, said during a conference call with press this morning. “Java EE 6 adds new services like RESTful Web Services, dependency injection and annotation additions for servlets, further reducing the amount of code that a developer must write.”
Schmidt added that the introduction of Profiles also makes Java EE 6 more extensible. The feature aims to help developers leverage only the parts of Java EE 6 they need for a given application, instead of using the entire platform.
Tom Kincaid, executive director of Sun’s Application Platform organization, added call that the key items that Java EE 6 enables are developer productivity, ease of application development, flexibility and extensibility.
As an example, Kincaid said that a coding task that would take over 20 lines of code spread across several source files can now be done with two lines of code in a single source file.
“We’ve taken similar steps in the way applications are packaged and deployed by reducing the number of archives required to produce an enterprise application—hence speed up the development process by orders of magnitude for certain tasks,” he said.
Though some in the Java Community Process (JCP) have expressed dissatisfaction with the process of how Java EE 6 was completed, Kincaid is not one of them. He said Sun is very proud of the release, and added that over 2,700 people contributed in some way to the JCP process that led to the final Java EE 6 specification.
Alongside the Java EE 6 release, Sun is also updating its core IDE for Java development. NetBeans 6.8 provides full Java EE 6 support, enabling developers to target and develop for Java EE 6-compliant middleware servers.
The NetBeans 6.8 release also builds on the previous 6.7 release, which came out in June, by providing more PHP support. While NetBeans is primarily a Java IDE, Sun has also gained traction among PHP developers. Features for them in NetBeans 6.8 includes added support for PHP 5.3.
Sun today also released Glassfish v3, which becomes the first Java EE 6-compliant application server. Becoming compliant requires passing the Java EE 6 Test Compatibility Kit, among other requirements.
The final Glassfish v3 release follows the Glassfish v3 Prelude release, which came out in November 2008. Schmidt noted that GlassFish v3 Prelude was a fully supported release that delivered a modular platform for Java EE 5 Web technologies on an OSGi runtime.
“It also delivered early access to some Java EE 6 technologies to enable developers to gain experience with some of the new and updated specifications,” Schmidt said. “The goal of the release was to accelerate adoption of Java EE 6 and to deliver a lightweight GlassFish Web container that laid a modular foundation for GlassFish v3.”
Schmidt added that the feedback Sun received on the Prelude release influenced the feature set in GlassFish v3, which is fully Java EE 6-compliant and has a modular runtime based on OSGi, offering distributions for the full Java EE 6 Platform and the new Java EE 6 Web Profile.
What’s Old Is New
The new Java EE 6 release does not mean that Java developers now need to go back and recode their older Java EE applications. One of the hallmarks of Java over the years is its backward compatibility, a feature that continues with Java EE 6.
“Every release of Java EE comes with a compatibility test kit that every vendor need to pass,” Kincaid said. “It includes all the tests from previous releases of Java EE. The test suite now has over 60,000 tests and we believe that will preserve backwards compatibility.”