Sun will kick off its annual JavaOne developer event by releasing its Looking Glass window manager under the GPL. It's basically a crude compositor for X11, but it gives the ancient windowing system a fresh lick of paint, and makes for a stunning demo. Sun hasn't often been able to show off eye-candy, so it's great publicity.
(This Sun article [link] explains how it came about. Programmer Hideya Kawahara began by trying to integrate elements of 3D into a conventional desktop, which explains why it looks so fresh, and is more-or-less completely useless. 3D doesn't in itself make the machine any easier to use, as this formation of windows flying over the Grand Canyon illustrates. Anyone who's used Apple's Expose feature knows that it works very well if you have three windows open and they're all different colors. We desperately need new and better human interfaces, so here's hoping that Sun doesn't stop pursuing more fruitful avenues.)
Sun will also open source other Java components including JDIC, the Desktop Integration Components library designed to make cross-platform applications look smarter; the Java 3D desktop project and JDNC network components.
Much more significantly, Sun will formally release the next major version of Java, codenamed Tiger or 1.5. The new name for milestone release is Java 2 Standard Edition 5. In other announcements we'll cover in more detail this week, Project Rave, now called Java Studio Creator, will go gold - Sun's attempt to win back mindshare from the rival multivendor Eclipse IDE, and attract new consultant-type developers. NetBeans 4.0 will be unveiled and there are new access programs for developers.
But of greatest significance of all (for some folk, no doubt) will be the news that Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's chief operating officer and president, will be launching his own textual version of corporate eye-candy: a personal weblog. You'll be able to "arse feed" directly with Jonathan, once he has melded with the emergent hive mind. Which we understand will be very soon. ®