Sun Microsystems will continue to fuel the debate about open source Java at is JavaOne worldwide developer conference next week.
The software giant has scheduled a panel debate to discuss what it should do about open sourcing Java.
The panellists include James Gosling, the 'father' of Java and chief technology officer for the developer platforms group at Sun, and Stanford University professor Lawrence Lessig.
Sun's description of the 'Big Question' debate reads: "Numerous individuals and organisations suggest that Java technology [should] adopt a new community and development model.
"This panel will dive into the tangle of granular technical and legal issues, including the potential trade-off between technologists' calls for openness and the market's demand for compatibility."
Tim Jennings, research production director at analyst Butler Group, said: "Until the Sun and Microsoft deal three months ago there was no benefit to Sun in open sourcing Java. I suppose it is now a little more likely.
"Java still gives Sun a lot of leverage, so it probably only makes sense to open source part but retain control of things such as the enterprise class bits."
Jennings added that it will be interesting to see what Sun says at the event about "evolving the Java ecosystem to move beyond the Sun ecosystem, especially the desktop as well as the enterprise".
But Chris Ingle, senior consultant at analyst IDC, indicated that he will be looking to see how Java is addressing the challenges of .Net, and how Java 2 Enterprise Edition application server vendors such as BEA Systems will attract applications to their environments.
More pressure on BEA and Sun in particular will come from open source development, according to the analyst.
"Look at the [open source] Eclipse developer framework. I think it's being used a lot more by application middleware vendors," said Ingle.
Also under the spotlight will be the Java Tools Community, formed in January by Sun, BEA, Oracle and SAS to create a common foundation for the many Java tools.
Developers will be interested to hear whether or not it will work with the IBM-sponsored Eclipse framework.
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