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Sun to offer source code for Java tool

Sun Microsystems plans to release the source code for its Java software development tool in a bid to make the Java programming language more popular.

Sun Microsystems plans to release the source code for its Java software development tool in a bid to make the Java programming language more popular.

Sun executives said today the company will soon release the code for its "Forte for Java, Community Edition," a free, easy-to-use tool that offers software developers a graphical user interface for designing Java applications.

Sun has recently embraced the open-source movement, which allows anyone to see and modify the original programming blueprints, or "source code," of a program. With varying degrees of openness, the company has made several of its products open source, including its Solaris operating system; the Java programming language and its widely used Network File System, networking software for sharing files.

Sun said the source code for its Java tool will be available for download by the end of May. The company will use the same licensing model Netscape used when it made its Navigator Web browser source code available. Called the Mozilla public licensing model, it allows software developers to use the technology for their own purposes, but it also allows them to contribute technology improvements to Sun for future versions of the tool.

Jonathan McKay, vice president and general manager for Sun's Forte tools division, said the company is making the source code available to help the company sell its forthcoming, higher-end software development tools. In the second half of this year, the company plans to ship Forte for Java Internet Edition and Forte for Java Enterprise Edition, both aimed at developers building business software.

Software firms can take the Forte source code and use it as the underlying technology to build new development tools, McKay said.

"We want software developers to take this thing and take it in whatever direction that suits them," he said.