In a move that reflects the growing power of the open-source programming movement, Sun Microsystems plans Monday to share a modest chunk of Java source code, an experimental user interface for desktop computers called Project Looking Glass.
The move, planned for Sun's JavaOne conference in San Francisco, acknowledges that the open-source software philosophy is important even in areas such as Java, where Sun has been reluctant to let it encroach. In the case of Looking Glass, Sun hopes the open-source move will trigger developer interest in using Java for interfaces with 3D graphics. Releasing the source code of the Looking Glass interface and the prefabricated Java 3D software it uses should indeed arouse attention from developers and software companies, said John Loiacono, Sun's recently promoted executive vice president of software.
Java has been criticized as being too slow to run applications such as computer-aided design that tax a computer's 3D graphics abilities, but the Java3D extension changes that, Loiacono said. "We've proven with Java3D you can do CAD or an entire user environment in 3D, and Java performs quite well," he said. With open-source software, most prominently exemplified by the Linux operating system, anyone may see, modify and redistribute the programs. The idea has proved powerful enough that even Microsoft, which typically maintains tight secrecy, has released some programming tools as open-source software.
News source: C|net