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JavaOne came early this year, with its new date of March as opposed to its traditional June venue. This appeared to catch both vendors and attendees by surprise, resulting in fewer announcements and a drop in overall attendance, aided and abetted by the dual religious holiday weeks of Passover and Holy Week.

Nevertheless WSJ was at the show covering the action. From a Web services perspective, the conference was somewhat mixed. Java is a mature platform at this point in time, so the truly monumental announcements and advances come somewhat slower in order to protect the installed base. Additionally, the new Sun lawsuit against Microsoft put a bit of a blunt edge to the Web services message coming out of the Sun camp.

One of the most significant revelations, at least in terms of functionality, if not surprise, was the intention to make Web services support an integral part of Java. In reality most of the application server vendors already have support, so this is not monumental, but by standardizing the support, the Java community gets one step closer to ubiquitous interoperability.

WSJ visited a number of vendors during the show to gauge the penetration and commitment to Web services. "It was clear to me that the first phase of Web services, the definition phase, is drawing to a close," said Sean Rhody, editor-in-chief of Web Services Journal. "Without exception, vendors had already provided the back-end connectivity within their products to allow them to expose a Web service interface. The battle for acceptance is over. The battle for respectability has begun."

WSJ witnessed an almost complete compliance with Web services protocols by vendors. Each vendor spoke of Web services as a given, and had moved on to how to make Web services easy to access and develop.

Possibly the pressure of Microsoft Visual .NET Studio is a driving factor in this movement. Each major Java vendor was either debuting or revising their visual products for Web services design, development and deployment. BEA took the opportunity to showcase its new WebLogic Workshop. WSJ spoke with BEA representatives and received a demo of the new product, which is clearly targeted at the higher level programmer rather than the hardcore J2EE developers who make up their core audience.

IBM debuted a reworked development environment, combined with the release of their own UDDI registry. Visual Age for Java, rebranded as WebSphere Studio, provides an updated interface with support for Web services. Also presenting a new Web services product was Iona, who unveiled their new Web Services Designer tool, along with updates to their XMLBus product.

Sun demonstrated their Java-based Gasoline sales Web services at an interesting kiosk that also featured their prototype smart car. Many hardware vendors were present and it was clear that topics that are of interest to the Web services community, such as security authentication and XML translations were on the minds of the hardware vendors. WSJ-I predicts the first XSLT hardware solution to be unveiled in 2004.

Also the hardware front, Sharp was the clear winner at the conference, selling thousands of pre-release Zaurus PDAs equipped with Linux and a PersonalJava runtime. So far no one has provided a Web service hosted on a palmtop, but it's only a matter of time.

Overall, JavaOne was what you would expect from a platform that has come of age - incremental improvements, significant changes, but no earth-shattering revelations.

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SOA World Magazine News Desk trawls the world of distributed computing and SOA-related developments for the latest word on technologies, standards, products, and services and brings key information to you in a timely and convenient summary form.

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