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Sun publishes Java Message spec

Advancing its middleware strategy, the company seeks to make it easier for developers to exchange information among applications.

Advancing its middleware strategy, Sun Microsystems has published a new Java Message Service specification that is designed to make it easier for enterprise software developers to exchange information among separate applications.

JMS 1.0 includes an API (applications programming interface) and framework that support message-based Java applications. Message services are a lesser-known kind of middleware, even among software developers, and one of Sun's goals with JMS is to raise the visibility of such services.

"Java Message Service 1.0 is the first API that the messaging industry has agreed to support broadly," said Mark Hapner, senior staff engineer at Sun. "Today, if you use messaging products, you have to use the proprietary API of those vendors. There's no common way of thinking about those messaging applications and no common API to access the service."

Although JMS is not a product, major middleware and tools vendors--including market leader IBM with its MQ Series software--are backing the specification and plan products. Other backers include Novell, Oracle, Sybase, and Tibco. Modulus Technologies has posted a beta version of its JMS-compliant InterAgent Java software on its Web site.

Enterprise messaging involves sending data from one enterprise application to another and guaranteeing that the information is received.

Programmers can be more productive using a messaging spec like JMS because custom interfaces don't have to be written between each application.

Microsoft, which did not participate in JMS discussions, and IBM, which did, previously cooperated in a Business Quality Messaging initiative, but that effort has not been broadly adopted.

JMS represents another Sun effort to tie its Java technology to middleware. Enterprise JavaBeans are the key component, and Hapner calls Java Mail Service "one of the final pieces of the puzzle." Sun's JDBC specification lets Java applications use information in standard relational databases, and the company is working to integrate Java with enterprise resource planning software too.

Software developers can download the JMS source code from Sun's Web site, but they also need enterprise messaging software that implements JMS.

Sun intends to make JMS as a "standard extension" to Java, meaning that it is not bundled into Sun's run-time software but can be added in a standard fashion.

Hapner also expects vendors to create scaled-down versions of JMS to help independent software developers, not just those doing corporate applications, use the specification as well.