Java 6

Sun was nice enough to send me email announcing the release of Java SE 6 on Tuesday. Java 6 is not as exciting as Java 5, but there are a few things to get excited about right off the bat:

  • Integrated web services: JAX-WS is a new API for XML-based web services. JAXB 2.0 is included.

  • Scripting language support, with JavaScript support built-in

  • Enhanced management and serviceability to make profiling and memory leak debugging easier

  • JDBC 4.0 (JSR 221)

If you don't want to spend 27 minutes watching the WebEx Java 6 announcement, here's a summary:

  • Java 6 is free (libre, not just gratis); it is not just open source with a restrictive license. The new license is GPLv2, with a classpath exception that allows you to build commercial closed-source applications. The tools you need to build and run Java 6 applications (javac, hotspot vm, javahelp) are now completely compatible with Linux and other open source projects

  • Java 6 is defined in JSR 270.

  • The Hotspot JVM and core library include performance improvements that make them run significantly faster. One of the improvements involves GC scaling and parallelism.

  • You can now use the Java Monitoring and Management Console to attach to a JVM that is already running. (Does this mean we don't need tools like JProbe and Your Kit Java Profiler?)

  • There are improvements to Swing that improve an application's native look and feel.

  • Building and deploying XML-based web services is a lot easier. All you have to do in your code is add the right annotation, and your class can be made available as a web service or use a web service. They also included JAXB 2.0, my favorite way to convert between XML documents and Java objects. SOAP 1.2 support adds .NET compatibility

  • There are additional rich client development improvement to make a Java desktop application behave like a native app, with easy access to the platform's native security services and default helper applications.

  • JDBC4 adds XML as a SQL data type.

  • JavaDB is included. Based on Apache Derby, it is fee to use and deploy.

  • There is now support for scripting and dynamic languages. Java 6 includes JavaScript support and ships with the Mozilla Rhino JavaScript engine. There is a new framework to integration with other scripting languages and to dynamically generate code.

  • Compatibility across platforms and with previous releases continues to be excellent.

  • One early adopter observes 25%-30% performance improvements.

Based solely on the promise of better performance, it's time to download Java 6 and try it out.

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