In a move designed to upstage arch-rival Microsoft, Sun has released a starter development kit for building Web Services in the Java programming language.
Web Services is likely to play a major part in who ultimately controls web-based trade, with Microsoft and the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) supporting companies, including IBM and BEA, pitched against each other.
The launch of Microsoft's Visual Studio.Net Web Services development toolset is expected in two weeks' time.
But the current J2EE 1.3 standard does not include Web Services, so Sun's release is seen as a temporary solution until J2EE is updated - probably by the year end.
Sun's Web Services Pack includes four Java application programming interfaces (APIs) to link into XML: two for transmitting XML format messages over the web, one for reading and processing XML documents, and one for connection to XML registries.
It also includes software allowing companies to create their own private Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI) registry, Apache Tomcat open source technology for running web-based transactions, and a tutorial.
Web Services standards are still evolving and there are weaknesses in the UDDI directory format that limit its scope. Therefore, Sun is also supporting registries built using the electronic business XML (ebXML) standard.
Other J2EE-supporting companies such as IBM, Oracle and SilverStream have already released their own Web Services toolkits.
Further releases of the Web Services Pack are expected in March and June.
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