Forte for Java Certified on J2EE 1.2

Sun Microsystems Inc. has released a J2EE update for the 3.0 version of Forte for Java, making it one of the first integrated development environments to support the latest release of Java 2 Enterprise Edition.

The compatibility update allows Forte for Java developers to deploy into the J2EE 1.2 Reference Implementation, and port their applications across most leading application servers, including IBM’s WebSphere, BEA’s WebLogic, and Sun’s own iPlanet offering.

The Certification Test Suite for J2EE – the application used to certify solutions for new J2EE specifications – has long been an important brand for application servers, but its use in the developer tools space has been fairly limited. Drew Engstrom, Sun’s product line manager of Forte for Java, says this trend is changing, however. “Using CTS for IDEs is something that’s just beginning to gain momentum,” he says.

Sun had to make some changes in how Forte for Java handles deep rich clients in order to pass CTS. Engstrom says the changes were minor, though, which allowed Sun to achieve the certification quickly. According to Engstrom, the modular design of Forte for Java makes it easy to tweak to keep pace with the constant J2EE updates coming out of the Java Community Process.

Being one of the first IDEs to certify on new releases of the J2EE specification is something the Forte for Java team at Sun plans to use as a key differentiator going forward. “By getting the J2EE 1.2 certification quickly, we can give customers a comfort level,” says Engstrom. “It’s something that adds safety and stability from the point of view of a customer.”

Forte for Java is a key piece of Sun’s strategy going forward, as mindshare among developers looking to build services-oriented architectures is growing more important. “Forte for Java is the development tool for building Sun’s Services on Demand,” says Engstrom (Services on Demand is Sun’s much-publicized vision for building services on top of the Sun ONE platform.)

IBM and Microsoft are Sun’s primary competition in the battle for mindshare among developers. Microsoft, arguably, has the largest developer community of all with the Microsoft Developer Network. And IBM, not far behind with its developerWorks program, just announced last week its plan to donate $40 million of software to help build an open-source development platform.

Sun has taken special offense to IBM’s participation in the open-source project, called Eclipse, depicting it as a rip-off of the NetBeans platform on which Forte for Java is based. “They’re forking of an existing open project that does a lot of the same things,” says Engstrom.

Sun also believes IBM is trying to push certain pieces of the Java-based Eclipse platform without presenting them to the JCP. “[IBM] is using some features that they have no intention of running through the JCP,” says Engstrom.

According to Engstrom, Eclipse is working with an alternative to Sun’s Abstract Window Toolkit, a JCP-approved class library that provides an application framework and graphical user interface routines for Java programmers.

IBM believes Eclipse will only help the Java community. “Eclipse is absolutely complementary to Java and the J2EE platform,” says Scott Hebner, director of marketing for IBM’s WebSphere software line. Hebner says, while Eclipse will compete with Sun’s Forte for Java on implementations, it will only help to further propagate the J2EE specification.

“[Sun] has a tendency that they need to control everything,” says Hebner.

Users of Forte for Java 3.0 can download the update for J2EE 1.2 through the environment’s auto-update feature.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.