Developers are still kicking the tires of the newly released Java Enterprise Edition 5, but early adopters say the new platform makes good on its architects' pledge to greatly simplify Java development and deployment.
"It's taken Java to where it should have been all along," said Pierre Fricke, director of product management at JBoss.
Sun Microsystems released Java EE 5 last month at its JavaOne conference.
"I think Java EE 5 is one of the best things that Sun has ever done with the Java technology. It was overdue," said Calvin Austin, an engineer at open-source software developer SpikeSource, Redwood City, Calif.
Austin spent a decade at Sun, where he helped shepherd Java's direction, before joining SpikeSource and hopping over to the user side of the Java fence. He's looking forward to Java EE 5 gaining traction, a change that he anticipates will slash the time and resources SpikeSource needs for customizing its software to run on customers' application server infrastructures.
"The previous releases of Java EE were great for companies that wanted to do proprietary Java development. It was a great opportunity for vendor lock-in. If you deployed on [BEA] WebLogic, it was very hard to move to [IBM] WebSphere," Austin said.
He estimated that it took several dozen patches, on average, to tailor a Java application for use on a particular vendor's app server. Java EE 5 clears the field and vastly improves portability, he noted.
IS Squared President Steve Knox expects Java EE 5--particularly the Enterprise Java Beans (EJB) 3.0 specification that lies at its heart--to lower the cost of Java projects that his Lynnwood, Wash.-based software development firm works on.
"The code is much simpler," Knox said. "That means we'll have shortened code development times, with faster debugging, better quality and lower costs."
Knox and other Java developers said they expect a lag of at least six months to a year before work takes off with Java EE 5. With the platform's shipment, the Sun-led GlassFish project concurrently released an open-source Java EE 5 app server that implemented the Java EE 5 spec, but industry analysts say GlassFish is too new to attract significant enterprise interest.
Java EE 5 critical mass awaits updated app server releases from the market's top-tier vendors, including BEA Systems, IBM, JBoss and Oracle. And ISVs say that's when they will really begin paying attention to the Java EE overhaul.
"I'm not currently seeing much uptake on [Java EE] 5, but I expect to see increased use as the next generation of application servers makes extensive use of the version 5 APIs," said Laurence Moroney, director of product evangelism for Mainsoft, San Jose, Calif.
"Normally, it takes a least a year or two for widespread use," said Larry Liang, chief architect for business intelligence software maker InetSoft Technology. "We really haven't gotten our hands dirty doing actual work with Java EE 5 yet, but obviously we've taken a look."