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Sun set to ship next Java version

Sun Microsystems tomorrow will release its next-generation Java standard for writing business software and announce new Java development tools.

Sun Microsystems tomorrow will release its next-generation Java standard for writing business software and announce new Java development tools.

Sun is shipping Java 2 Enterprise Edition, a mix of technologies developed over the past year that gives developers a uniform way to build business software using the popular Java programming language, according to Sun representatives.

At its core is the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) programming model, which lets developers write applications using reusable pieces of code. Java 2 Enterprise Edition also includes a guidebook that serves as a blueprint for companies to build Java-based e-commerce software.

Java 2 Enterprise Edition, which was previously available in a beta version, competes with Microsoft's programming model called Windows Distributed Internet Applications. Sun wants programmers to use Java, so the software they build can be used in all computers, while Microsoft primarily wants developers to create software that runs on its Windows operating system.

IBM, Oracle, BEA Systems and dozens of other firms support Java and are building support for Java 2 Enterprise Edition into application servers, software that helps businesses create e-commerce software. EJBs run on application servers, which store applications until they are requested by users.

The announcement for Java 2 Enterprise Edition will kick off Sun's Java Business Expo conference in New York tomorrow. Sun will also offer consulting services to help businesses use the new Java standard.

"J2 EE is big. The beta's been out, and they've been talking about it for more than a year, but it's still a significant piece of engineering," said analyst Anne Thomas, of the Patricia Seybold Group. "Now people can actually go out and implement Java 2 EE platforms."

Sun tomorrow will also announce plans for Java software development tools that the company acquired from its recent purchase of NetBeans and Forte Software.

Sun is releasing the beta version of "Forte for Java, Community Edition," a free, easy-to-use development tool. The technology, previously called NetBeans Developer 3.0, offers a graphical user interface for designing Java applications and supports Windows, Solaris and Linux operating systems. The tool is downloadable free on Sun's Web site.

Sun spokesman Michael Shuster said Sun developers have tweaked the product and added in some performance enhancements, such as ease of use and speed.

Sun is also announcing more support for Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Java in Forte Fusion business integration software.

XML is an increasingly popular Web standard that lets businesses easily exchange data.

Forte Fusion allows Sun to compete against Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and others in the growing "enterprise application integration" market, which is expected to grow from about $400 million in revenue this year to $1.8 billion by 2002, according to analyst firm Gartner Group.

With the explosion of e-business, companies are trying to build Web sites that link their customers, partners, suppliers and employees. But to do so, they need to integrate business software never designed to communicate, such as mainframe software and human resources and financial applications.

Sun will soon add support for the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) Transformation standard, which will let developers easily use XML to tie together business software.

XSL technology lets users define how a document is presented, specifying color and font. The XSL Transformation technology will let developers easily map different documents together without having to write a lot of software code, said Thomas.