Schwartz jumpstarts Java, showcases Canuk innovation

SAN FRANCISCO — Sun Microsystems used a Canadian-built application to highlight the power of its Java language in the kick-off of its annual JavaOne conference here last month.

As part of his keynote speech, Sun’s president and chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz performed a product

demonstration of Qnext, a peer-to-peer communication suite offering universal instant messaging videoconferencing, file sharing and more. Schwartz used Qnext, which was developed on Java by a Toronto-based company of the same name and released in public beta June 28, to communicate with executive vice-president of Sun Software John Loiacono.

Qnext and products like it prove Java — a Sun-developed technology for writing a single application that can run on any platform regardless of operating system or processor — remains a strong and vital part of the IT industry, Schwartz said. More importantly, he said Java-based

applications are about to take a more prominent role on desktops and other computing clients that are proliferating among consumers and in corporate enterprises. These include the 350 million handsets Schwartz said run Java, as well as 600 million Java cards used in ATMs, and PCs.

“”The desktop is coming back,”” he told the keynote audience, adding that the challenge for Sun is to make Java programming more flexible and easier than it has been in the past. “”We’ve got to move from where you need a Ph.D. or a master’s or be a college graduate . . . to where you don’t require people with such advanced skills.””

Sun will attempt to address that problem with the launch of Java Studio Creator, a $99 product that will use Java Server Faces to help users create sophisticated user interfaces on applications. Formerly code-named Rave, Loicono said more than 40,000 people had downloaded early versions of Java Studio Creator in the first 60 days. About six companies have already deployed applications using it, he added.

JavaOne also saw the introduction of Java2 Standard Edition 1.5, a product formerly code-named “”Tiger,”” designed to make Java-based applications run faster.

Instead of trying to generate revenue through sales of Java licences, Schwartz said Sun sees Java as a way of creating applications that will put more demands on corporate networks, fuelling the need for the kind of high-scale infrastructure the company has built its fortune on. He used the example of cellphone ring tones, which he said have helped the struggling recording industry, and welcomed Siemens VDO Automotive AG to demonstrate an in-car console that offered navigation, climate and entertainment applications.

In Canada, however, Java users continue to turn to Sun for more challenging data management work. Late last year, for example, Sun opened a Global Centre of Excellence at Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Samuel Lunfield Research Institute in Toronto, which is trying to create the world’s largest database of protein-related information through a group called the Blueprint Initiative. The so-called biomolecular interaction network interface, or BIND, is a Web- accessible repository of both text and schematic diagrams intended to further research into diseases and drugs. Based on Java, so far it holds more than 90,0000 records.

Marc Dumontier, the Blueprint Initiative’s senior bioinformatics software developer, did not attend JavaOne but in a phone interview said his team is already looking at Java Studio Creator as a means of easing the way scientists would offer material to BIND’s curators.

“”We’re really interested in the Java Server Server Faces,”” he said. “”We have a pretty complex UI for our submission interface. It’ll be interesting to see how it can improve and clean up things.””

Developers such as the Blueprint Initiative are using open source tools, and Sun is using JavaOne as an opportunity to discuss whether it will open source more parts of Java to the community. Schwartz committed to open sourcing Sun’s Looking Glass interfaces, but in a press conference following the show said more has to be done to sort out of the way open source and its licensing model would affect the Java Community Process. Sun is worried that open sourcing Java completely would “”fork”” the technology into different versions the way the Linux has evolved around Red Hat and SuSE distributions.

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