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Sun ships Java tools for Web services

The company releases a starter kit, which features a tutorial and development tools, to allow software developers to use Java to build and run Web services.

Sun Microsystems has launched new software tools to bolster its Web services strategy.

Sun executives said Friday that the company has released a starter kit, which features a tutorial and development tools. The kit will allow software developers to use the Java language to begin building and running Web services, which allow software to be delivered over the Internet to PCs, cell phones and other handheld devices.

Sun and Java allies IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems and others compete against Microsoft in building and selling software that allows businesses to deliver Web services. In two weeks, Microsoft plans to launch its Visual Studio.Net suite of software development tools for building Web services.

Sun's first version of its toolkit--called the Web Services Pack--is the company's stopgap measure to allow Java developers to start building Web services. Meanwhile, Sun and other Java companies are working to incorporate Web services into the Java standard by year's end.

The Java standard known as Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) is a common set of blueprints for companies that use Java to build business software for e-commerce and other Internet operations. The current standard--version 1.3--does not have support for Web services built in.

Most Java companies--such as IBM, Oracle, SilverStream, and now Sun--have been releasing their own Web services toolkits that offer differing guidelines to build Web services using Java. They all plan to adhere to a formal standard when such a standard is ready.

Sun's new toolkit includes four Java application programming interfaces (APIs), or sets of instructions, that connect Java applications with XML (Extensible Markup Language), a standard for exchanging data over the Web. XML enables Web services.

The technologies include two messaging APIs for transmitting XML documents over the Web; a Java API for XML Processing, which provides a standard way for processing and reading XML documents and a Java API for XML Registries, which defines the way for connecting to registries, which are online yellow pages for listing Web services.

Sun supports registries that are built using either the UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration) standard or the EBXML (Electronic Business XML) standard.

The Web Services Pack also includes software for companies to create a private UDDI registry and open-source technology called Apache Tomcat, free Java application server software that runs e-business and other Web site transactions.

Sun plans to release an updated toolkit in the spring and the final version in the summer.