|By Richard Marejka, July 2008|
The Java Platform, Mobile Edition (Java ME) platform's MSA specification (JSR 248) defines a standard set of application functionality for mobile devices. It also clarifies interactions between various technologies associated with the MIDP and CLDC specifications. The Java Community Process (JCP) is working on the next version of two important JSRs: Version 2 of the Mobile Service Architecture and version 3 of the Mobile Information Device Profile (MIDP).
These new versions will align the standards with current and near-future technology. In the case of MSA2 (JSR 249), this translates into the inclusion of new JSRs, especially in the area of multimedia and the newest versions of some existing JSRs. MIDP 3 will take advantage of more powerful hardware devices to add, among other things, concurrently executing applications.
|-||MSA and MSA2 Overview|
|-||Call to Action|
MSA aims to create a predictable environment for application developers who utilize the latest handset technologies. By choosing to meet this specification, manufacturers benefit from a large number of compatible applications that take advantage of their devicesPH*PH*PH\u2019PH*PH*PH hardware and software functionalities. When creating products for this software and service environment, developers can access a broad range of devices that support their applications. MSA started in July 2004 as an umbrella standard, to define a Java ME runtime platform and reduce the fragmentation in the device space. Eighteen months after starting, the final release was available (December 2006). Since then there has been one maintenance release, in February 2008.
To demonstrate their commitment to MSA, manufacturers announced MSA-compliant devices just 3 months after the JSR was ratified. These devices were shipping within 12 months. For developers, both the Sun Java Wireless Toolkit for CLDC and NetBeans IDE support the creation of MSA applications.
Work has begun on JSR 249: Mobile Service Architecture 2 to build on the success of MSA. Interestingly, JSR 249 has been around as long as JSR 248, the original MSA standard. In July 2004, JSRs 248 and 249 were accepted by the JCP as Mobile Service Architecture for CLDC and CDC respectively. Since then, JSR 248 has been renamed and ratified as Mobile Service Architecture and JSR 249 has been renamed Mobile Service Architecture 2 (MSA2) and has just left the Early Draft Review stage.
MSA2 has a new look but remains backward-compatible with its predecessor. Where the original MSA offered two versions — full and subset — MSA2 offers three versions: Limited, Subset, and Full.
Each MSA2 version is a superset of its MSA equivalent.
The following figure shows MSA2 Full with its Limited and Subset variations.
On the preceding figure, two changes are immediately apparent.
The following list outlines the new features of MSA2: the new, the updated, and the single withdrawn JSRs.
javax.microedition.iopackage. The new package
javax.microedition.eventwill provide application-to-application communication and notification of system events. There are other MIDP enhancements.
As for the other MSA 1.1 components, they remain the same in MSA2.
While all this is good news for developers and consumers, the question is: When will it be available? This requires some evaluation of the included JSRs and an estimation of completion times for those JSRs that are not yet at the final stage. The JSRs that are not yet final, in reverse stage order, are
Of the five JSRs listed, two are at the final ballot stage, two at final draft, and one is at public review ballot. Based on an estimate it takes six months to go from public review ballot to final release, the finalization of MIDP3 will happen in the fourth quarter of 2008. The ratification of MSA2 would follow that of MIDP3, but probably not before the first quarter of 2009.
If manufacturers are just as keen with MSA2 as they were with MSA, the first devices are about one year away. While this may seem like a long time, by the time the JSRs are integrated with the development tools, we can learn as much as we can now about the individual JSRs and start thinking about the new applications that can be created when the devices will be ready.
The next opportunity to comment on MSA2 will be at the Public Review stage, sometime in the fourth quarter of 2008. Be prepared and download a copy of the Early Draft Review now. At 126 pages, it is a quick read.