18 Aug 2006

Open Source Java ME

The Rich Green video confirmed that Java ME (CLDC and CDC) are being open sourced. I believe the opening of the Standard Edition was well anticipated, but the inclusion of the Micro Edition is great news. The timing is also impressive: roll out by the end of 2006.

Presumably this will ensure Java is included by more handsets and other devices, including as a default on more Linux-based devices. What happens there is probably determined by the license choice. The intriguing possibly is that ME technology could become common place on device other than phones. Although some will shudder at that idea, remembering back to the original diagrams describing “profiles” and “configurations”, it’s what the technology was designed for: a configuration, like CLDC, is a set of classes for a range of devices; a profile, such as MIDP, is the collection of APIs for a vertical market.

Apparently “there could be gaps in the Java ME stack that would need to be filled, perhaps by contributions of relevant code from other open-source projects” (IT Week). That’s a great opportunity for a small organization like ours to contribute to the source running on the next two billion devices out there.

I assumed that the open sourcing is going to be help during debugging. But then again, maybe not. It depends on who’s using Sun’s implementations. Symbian, Nokia, IBM, Sony Ericsson and all the other licensees all probably put in a lot of work for the platforms they support. Looking at it the other way round, it’s a chance for manufacturers, networks and OS vendors to head-off fragmentation by contributing back to the Sun implementations.