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Sun delivers BluePrints for wireless Java success

Sun's BluePrints both recognizes and attempts to address criticism over a lack of practical planning, testing or clear guidelines.

Sun's Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME) technology has had the advantage of being first to market, but the company has wrestled to demonstrate the best way to utilize the strengths of J2EE, the transaction-oriented server-side (Enterprise Edition) application.

To tackle this problem, Sun released the Java BluePrints for Wireless program Tuesday at http://www.java.sun.com/blueprints.

Aimed at developers, Java BluePrints for Wireless is a collection of end-to-end best practices, guidelines and architectural recommendations designed to demonstrate how to utilize the J2EE and J2ME platforms to build a distributed, transaction-oriented enterprise application using J2EE on the server and J2ME on the client.

Java BluePrints is delivered free of charge in the form of white papers and the Java Smart Ticket, a sample application that illustrates various recommended development techniques.

Sun, with its Forte for Java IDE and iPlanet Application Server, as well as BEA, Borland, Macromedia, Oracle and WebGain are planning to distribute Java BluePrints for Wireless.

Context

BluePrints is meant to demonstrate to enterprise application developers, wireless carriers and phone manufacturers that there is a clear profit opportunity in J2ME. The idea is to provide a clear incentive to promote Java phones as much more than new-subscriber marketing tools.

BluePrints represents an integral part of Sun's continuing effort to provide developers with robust Java application development support, said Sun J2EE product marketing manager Cory Kaylor. The Java platform has achieved success on the server side as an enterprise software integration engine, but in many cases BluePrints will be the first time many developers are introduced to the wireless client side, she added.

Despite Sun's protestations to the contrary, wireless Java technology holds traps for unwary developers that can severely affect the performance and robustness of Java programs. Many implementations of the Java platform on handheld terminals do not behave in the way application or content developers might expect, particularly in terms of low-level system functionality and managing memory.

The program is meant to improve developer productivity and facilitate the creation of scalable applications on any device. It equips Java developers with the tools needed to become even more efficient in the increasingly competitive marketplace for Java-based end-to-end solutions, said Nicolas Lorain, Sun senior product manager for J2ME.

Technology

The program comprises best-practice application programming models for extending J2EE applications to the wireless client with J2ME. The Java Smart Ticket sample application is a movie ticket reservation application that utilizes a MIDP (Mobile Information Device Profile) client and a J2EE application backend based on the Java BluePrints. It shows developers step by step how J2EE and J2ME interoperate to create enterprise and transaction-oriented applications that serve mobile client devices, such as cell phones, two-way pagers (for the US) and palmtops.

Most Java developers are used to application logic residing on the server and come with the same perspective to mobile devices, said Lorain. But dealing with J2ME wireless devices means different rules apply.

J2ME technologies include a range of Java virtual machines, consumer-class APIs, profiles, libraries and tools dealing with such things as battery operation, constrained memory, limited processing power and low-bandwidth high-latency network connections. J2ME is expected to smooth the path for wireless operators and service providers looking to benefit from an improved user interface and a disconnected mode of operations.

Competition

Sun denies BluePrints is a reaction to much-publicized problems such as those of Sony in Japan, where it had to implement an expensive recall. More recently, concerns over malicious content and security have further dampened enthusiasm for Java phones. Furthermore, Java suffers from not having a convincing end-to-end solution story when compared with Qualcomm's BREW and Microsoft's .NET.

The downside of a market that allows content and application developers to build more sophisticated interactive services is that they are difficult to build.

Microsoft's .NET initiative, much like Sun's Java, is to extend the reach of its developer API set. Last month, Microsoft announced that the same tools can now be used to build applications for desktop PCs, smart phones and personal digital assistants.

Microsoft's influence over both corporate and commercial software developers is a major weapon that it is using to further its position as a bona fide mobile device platform. The company has the developer power base to reduce the size of the wireless Java market by providing an attractive, powerful and ubiquitous substitute.

While Qualcomm's BREW does not necessarily compete directly with Java, it is not that different from Java either. BREW offers content and application developers access to a broad range of features and functions, and Qualcomm licenses BREW to third-party infrastructure players.

Conclusion

To drive the market for wireless data services, every participant in the value chain needs the benefits of a unifying technology. However, the development of wireless Java is complex, and BluePrints both recognizes and attempts to address criticism over a lack of practical planning, testing or clear guidelines.

HR> the451 (www.the451.com) is an analyst firm that provides timely, detailed and independent analysis of news in technology, communications and media. To evaluate the service click here.

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