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The Sun Outshines the Rest in the Field of Technology

  • February 15, 2005
  • By W. Jason Gilmore
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Service-Oriented Architecture

As society's dependence and demands upon software has increased, so have the challenges faced by IT developers. To accomodate these challenges, we've devised increasingly sophisticated methods for writing scaleable, flexible, and maintainable applications. One striking example of this evolutionary march forward came with the rise of networked and Web-based environments. For instance, in order to better manage the multi-dimensional problem space posed by Web-based applications consisting of an application server, database, and web browser, we strive to cleanly separate, or decouple, each component.

The advantages are doing so are severalfold, but perhaps most notably it lessens the pain involved in maintaining and upgrading our application because each component is essentially interdependent of the others. Therefore given a properly decoupled application, it should be possible to replace one database server for another (say Oracle for MySQL) without requiring reworking of the other components. Furthermore, such an approach promotes component reusability, because it should be equally feasible to produce a new desktop interface that interacts with the application and database server with no modification to these existing components.

In light of the rapidly transforming Web environment, we've recently begun working on yet another approach to networked application development based on this concept of decoupling. The approach is due to the promises of Web services, the name generally assigned to an application made accessible over the Internet by way of a standardized XML-based messaging system. Because in the interests of reusability, not to mention reliability, it stands to reason that we would want to be able to reuse Web services within multiple applications, or potentially call an alternative should our primary service go offline. This strategy is known as building a service-oriented architecture (SOA). Although we're still fairly early on in the development curve of this new paradigm, the riches it could impart in terms of application stability, efficiency and scaleability may prove inestimable, making it a logical finalist in this category.

  And the Winner is... J2SE!

Despite a very strong candidate pool, the coronation of J2SE (Java 2 Standard Edition) as the Developer.com Technology of the Year wasn't entirely unforeseen. After all, the Java community seems to be in the midst of a renaissance of sorts these days. For starters, J2SE 5.0, arguably the most significant release to date was made available this past September. Offering over 100 significant new features including most notably enumerated types, generics, metadata, and primitive type auto-boxing support, developers are more empowered than ever to build powerful applications. A complete list of the language updates can be found on Sun's website, and further details about the update was reported on Developer.com immediately following the release.

However, one cannot help but take note of the perception that interest in the language is being revitalized due to the thriving Open Source Java community. The tireless efforts of contributors worldwide intent on producing quality Java application development and testing tools have resulted in open source development platforms such as Eclipse and the NetBeans IDE become tools of choice for countless Java developers. In addition, a slew of open source Java projects such as Ant, Hibernate, and the horde of efforts managed by the Apache Jakarta project have made Java a more compelling choice than ever before. And as if the buzz regarding such projects wasn't enough, on the heels of the decision to open source the Solaris operating system, it's recently been reported that Sun has its sights set on open sourcing the Java language. Despite an already open development process overseen by the Java Community Process, one can't help but wonder where the language could go should such an event occur.

Congratulations to all involved in making Java such an amazing language. It's naming as the 2005 Developer.com Technology of the Year is well deserved!

About the Author

W. Jason Gilmore (http://www.wjgilmore.com/) is the Open Source Editor for Apress (http://www.apress.com/). He's the author of Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL: Novice to Professional (Apress, 2004. 748pp.). His work has been featured within many of the computing industry's leading publications, including Linux Magazine, O'Reillynet, Devshed, Zend.com, and Webreview.

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