Simplifying Java programming is on the agenda at Sun, though a move to open source the technology isn't.

Executives at a Sun "Chalk Talk" session yesterday said they hoped new Java technologies, such as annotations, JVMTI (Java Virtual Machine Tool Interface), and a persistence API could bring about easier Java programming.

Annotations, which is featured in the recently released J2SE 5.0, allow developers to declaratively mark code to ascribe to it a particular behaviour, according to Sun. Previously, this required a separate XML file.

"We launched JSR 175 to take this somewhat vague concept and actually turn it into a language design," said Graham Hamilton, vice president and Fellow for Java Platform and Architecture at Sun.

"Annotations are going to have an impact on the next revision of J2EE," said Axel Kratel, senior product manager for Java technology solutions at Borland. The next version of J2EE, Version 5, is expected in early 2006. Sun is seeking a common set of annotations for developers to use. Annotations functionality is expected to be added to Sun's Java Studio Creator tool at some point.

A unified persistence model also is a goal. A persistence API allows for creation of Java objects and having the data in those objects persist, or be saved, in a database.

Sun officials and Kratel also touted JVMTI, which provides a standard API for gauging application memory and time consumption. It is included in the JDK. Borland plans to support this in an upcoming version of its Optimizeit ServerTrace product for application performance analysis and diagnostics. Sun plans to support JVMTI in the NetBeans open source tools platform.

Sun officials maintained Sun's that to promote compatability on the Java platform, the platform must not be released under an open source format. Compatability tests must be maintained, they stressed. Java-based technologies themselves, however, have been offered via open source.

"What do you think (the open sourcing of Java) does that people can't do today?" asked Onno Kluyt, chairman of the JCP (Java Community Process) at Sun.

"The one thing that we're kind of really strong on is compatability," Hamilton added. Sun has resisted calls from vendors such as IBM to make Java open source.