Network World via NewsEdge Corporation : SAN FRANCISCO - Sun yesterday unveiled a new packaging of Java software at the JavaOne conference. The package is aimed at the burgeoning market for handheld and embedded systems.
The Java 2 Platform Micro Edition (J2ME) is a set of Java virtual machines, APIs, tools and programming guidelines. This package is intended for use in such devices as TV set-top boxes, screenphones, wireless pagers, cell phones and personal digital assistants.
J2ME will gradually replace at least two existing packages, Personal Java and Embedded Java. A key part of the J2ME is the K Virtual Machine (KVM), which is the code that runs Java applications. The KVM was inspired by the virtual machine in JCard, which is a 12K-byte version of Java designed for smart card applications. The KVM requires only 64K bytes of memory, compared to Personal Java's 2M bytes. A typical memory footprint for a small device with J2ME would be about 128K bytes, according to Sun.
Like the JCard virtual machine, the KVM can be split into two parts. In one part a very small piece of code runs on the client device itself. On the second part the rest of the virtual machine runs on a computer or other device on the network.
The KVM binary code will be available in a test release for 3Com's Palm III and Palm V personal organizer starting this week. An array of devices featuring the KVM will be ready in 2000, Sun says.
Sun is currently developing a real-time version of J2ME, and there will be a separate virtual machine for that package.
An array of OEM vendors, including Motorola, 3Com, Matsushita, NTT DoCoMo and NEC participated in the KVM design process and several demonstrated available or prototype pagers and phones using J2ME and the KVM.
Motorola demonstrated a prototype two-way pager using the software in less than 100K bytes of memory. In one demonstration, an infrared link was used to transfer Java code from a Palm III to the pager, which was then able to run a new application.
Mark VandenBrink, software architect for the Motorola project, says the J2ME brings intelligence - via its programming environment - to a vast array of devices. Because these devices are now programmable, any one of the estimated 1.7 million Java coders can create new functions and applications for anything that hosts the KVM.
Actually, many JavaOne attendees were doing just that, having bought a Palm V with J2ME at less than half the retail price. The 10,000 units in the special promotion were snapped up in the first four hours of the show yesterday, which means about half of the attendees got one.
Sun also announced that 3Com's Palm operating system would become what's called a reference platform for J2ME, meaning that the code will be packaged with the Palm operating system for use by developers. Previously, PersonalJava was delivered only on Sun computers running the Solaris operating system.
In a related Java announcement, Sun says it will release HotSpot Performance Engine Version 2.0 in August. The performance of HotSpot's Version 2 will be increased by 30%. HotSpot was designed to run Java applications faster than previous Java virtual machines were able to. Version 1.0, released last April, nearly doubled application performance, according to Sun.
Starting with the release of Version 2.0, HotSpot will be available to developers throughout the Community Source Licensing program, which lets them get source code instead of only binary code.
The Apache developer community, which created and oversees the free and widely used Apache Web server, has licensed the newly announced JavaServer Pages technology from Sun.
Under the deal, Apache project members will develop JavaServer Pages for the Apache server. The goal is to deploy as widely as possible a key new technology for integrating Web pages with Java server code. Using JavaServer pages, Web developers can add special character sequences to HTML documents that will link the page with Java code, such as an Enterprise JavaBean software component, that runs on servers. JavaServer Pages is expected to be available as part of Apache by next December at the latest.
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