During some four years of development, Sun developer Calvin Austin said, J2SE 5.0 involved nearly 160 expert members who designed new features that improve ease of use, overall performance and scalability, system monitoring and management, and rich client desktop development.
Graham Hamilton, a Sun vice president and lead architect for the project, could not be very specific during a conference call to reporters and analysts about what's new in the platform, except to say that "there are more than 100 new major features and a host of minor ones."
Hamilton said the improvements lined up along six general themes: quality, scalability/performance, desktop clients, monitoring and management, ease of development, and support for XML. For a detailed explanation of the new release, see the Sun Java site.
"This is the most successful 'open source-type' release we've had," Hamilton said. "More than 4,000 email exchanges were made and 25,000 code lines were added from the community. This was very much a total community process."
The new release does include an improved XML parser, a new XML transformer engine, and a score of new libraries, he said.
Sun Fellow and original Java team leader James Gosling was a bit more specific.
"The team that put it together, and the community they work in, have done a fabulous job," Gosling wrote in his blog. "I'm particularly happy that the longest running feature request has finally shipped: Generics. This has been high on my wish list since before the first release of Java. The global technical debate that raged on and on finally settled down, and a fine piece of work has resulted."
Gosling, who also was on the conference call, said that the 5.0 release was all about "compatibility, as the history of Java has shown. Ever since the very first release back in 1995, all [Java] sources have been openly available for download. We want everybody to use them as they see fit; the only thing we ask is that people build software compatible with all other Java software. We think that compatibility matters; that's one sticking point we've always had with the open source community."
The J2SE 5.0 Developer Kit and runtime are available for free download.
Sun also announced that J2SE 6.0, code-named Mustang, is on a timetable to be released in the spring of 2006. Gosling and Hamilton said that it was too early to predict what that release would feature but that it would continue to build upon the 5.0 release.