Lifting off

Java ME 8 and the Internet of Things

TerrenceBarrandSteveMeloan
team-rocket

An overview of the platform poised to help lift the Internet of Things revolution into orbit.

Top features of Java ME 8

A major theme of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las
Vegas, Nevada, was wearable computing. Under the hood
of such diverse hardware devices as sleep-monitoring infant
clothes, sports-enhancing wristbands, and pet accelerometer
collars, as well as mainstay technologies such as connected
vehicles, smart appliances, medical sensors, smart meters, and
industrial controllers, lies a broad array of embedded and
connected computations devices—increasingly termed
the Internet of Things. By many estimates, this
decade will see billions of such connected things,
spanning a broad range of hardware and memory specifications.

But every good story begins with a challenge of some kind. For
all the promise and possibility of the exploding space of embedded
devices, there are also a number of obstacles. The ubiquity and
pervasiveness of such technologies, along with the growing
fragmentation of hardware architectures, devices, system software,
and infrastructure, cries out for unified development standards in
terms of programming language, software platform, tools, testing,
deployment, scalability, and developer community. The hardware and
software fragmentation of the current embedded space often requires
piecing together the entire development stack for a given hardware
platform—including the runtime, the tools, the languages, the APIs,
the protocols, and the connectivity.

Java ME 8 provides a purpose-built, scalable, and flexible
development and deployment environment for the embedded space,
including language, standards, platform, tools, security,
scalability, and a 9-million-plus community of Java developers
already versed in the overall language and platform—all poised to
help facilitate what many predict will be a third IT
revolution. Figure 1 shows an overview
of the Java ME 8 platform. The following sections explore the top
new features of Java ME 8.

barr-f1

Figure 1

Connected Limited Device Configuration 8


Connected Limited Device Configuration 8
 (CLDC 8)—the
configuration underpinnings of Java ME 8—is an extended, strict
subset of Java SE 8 that provides an evolutionary update to CLDC
1.1.1 while bringing the virtual machine (VM), Java language, and
core API libraries into alignment with Java SE 8. CLDC 8 aligns the
two platforms in terms of tools and programming model, while
providing many new features specifically targeting the embedded
space, as well as ensuring backward binary compatibility. CLDC 8
also provides such new Java language features as assertions,
generics, annotations, and more. Java ME 8 is the first major step
in the convergence of Java SE and Java ME, with further alignment
planned for future releases.

Java developers can now more easily take their existing skills
and begin writing applications for the exploding realm of embedded
devices—using the same familiar platform, language, programming
model, and tools. In so doing, they achieve a much faster time to
market as well as cross-platform compatibility and embedded device
scalability. Being mindful of appropriate language and API subsets,
it’s possible to create an application or library that will run
unmodified across a range of hardware, from very small CLDC 8
devices up to larger Java SE 8 type devices.

Generic Connection Framework 8

In the desktop or server world, one typically finds a simple and
stable Ethernet pipe into the application or system. But the
embedded space often presents highly varied connection options and
needs—cellular, Wi-Fi, and wired (and often multiple connectivity
options in a single device)—in order to achieve the required
flexibility for a specific use case.


The Generic Connection Framework 8
 (GCF 8) AccessPoint API
provides fine-grained and optimized connectivity control—depending
upon use case, available connection options, roaming specifications
and costs, and data transfer needs.

And in a predicted era of billions of connected embedded
devices, the ability to locate and intercommunicate via IP address
is essential. GCF 8 provides full IPv6 support to tackle the
long-anticipated issue of IPv4 address exhaustion. There is also
support for IP multicast—not only for installing a device into the
network and detecting and connecting to peers, but also the ability
to act as a server while using fully encrypted Secure Server Socket
connections.

Because security is important in today’s wirelessly connected
world, and will be even more so with millions or billions of
devices in a connected Internet of Things, GCF 8 also provides the
latest security standards—including Transport Layer Security (TLS)
1.2 and secure datagram connections via Datagram Transport Layer
Security (DTLS) 1.2—offering the highest levels of networked
encryption and authentication.

Micro Edition Embedded Profile 8

While CLDC 8 provides the basic Java platform—in terms of the
core runtime, core language features, and core APIs—it does not
fully define the embedded application platform. Micro
Edition Embedded Profile 8
 (MEEP 8) sits on top of CLDC 8
and provides the application model and container, a means to
provision applications to a system, to share code among
applications, and to update software components during the lifetime
of the system, for example, to add new functionality or to deploy
updates and bug fixes.

MEEP 8 also provides for partitioning and modularizing the
individual functional components of an application—an interface to
a sensor, data filtering logic, connection to a server, and so on.
In this way, processing granularity is established at
the service level rather than at the application
level, making provisioning, management, and updating of the
embedded application much simpler and more elegant. 

EMBEDDED-READY: 

With a stable of 9-million-plus Java developers already in
the field, the Java ME 8 release offers not only
vast
new career possibilities
, but provides an
industry-growth catalyst for the entire burgeoning embedded
space.

Meanwhile, right sizing via profile sets
provides highly specific customization of memory footprint for
given application use cases. A particular application might not
need or use a given set of functionality. Selecting the appropriate
profile set can, thereby, eliminate unnecessary functionality and
memory uses. If a later use case expands functionality, additional
optional packages (technology-specific APIs) can be added—offering
seamless scaling.

Pertinent to both minimizing memory footprint and modularizing
application functionality, MEEP 8 also provides shared libraries
(LIBlets)—where multiple applications can share common library
code. Read-only code thus resides in one shared place in memory,
rather than within each individual application space. As an added
bonus, such shared library space can be updated or altered just one
time for all applications accessing it.

Meanwhile, so that applications running on embedded devices can
maximally collaborate and communicate, MEEP 8 offers both
asynchronous event-based messaging (akin to a publish-subscribe
mechanism) and synchronous Inter-MIDlet Communication (IMC; akin to
a UNIX pipe).

MEEP 8 also provides a sophisticated and fine-grained security
model, enabling use case–specific security policies for
authentication and authorization (see Figure
2
). Sandboxed execution ensures secure code loading,
verification, datatyping, and configurable permission controls for
access to resources and data. Individual software components are
associated with specific clients and inherit their allowed
privileges. And such permissions are confirmed at every access
event.

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Figure 2

Device Access API


The Device Access API for Java ME 8
, already present in
previous Java ME releases, is critical functionality that enables
embedded Java applications to access peripheral devices such as
buttons, switches, sensors, LEDs, LCD screens, audio, and more in a
platform-neutral way. It now expands access to more devices and
adds new functionality. And late
binding
 functionality allows for the addition of new
peripheral types without changing the API.

Java ME SDK 8


Java ME SDK 8
 offers a full-featured and purpose-built
toolset for embedded development, including emulation and
simulation environments for a variety of devices—so applications
can be developed in parallel with hardware, thereby vastly
improving time to market. Developers can simulate, test, and debug
in emulation mode, and then once the actual hardware devices and
peripherals are in place, have much greater confidence in the final
testing of applications.

In addition to security, memory, and network monitoring tools,
the Developer Agent in Java ME SDK 8 provides levels of access and
control beyond those of typical embedded development environments,
including the ability to reset devices, access file systems (on
screenless devices), make configuration changes, and more—all from
Java ME SDK 8. Meanwhile, NetBeans plug-ins offer full-featured,
IDE integration with the Java ME SDK—providing a familiar and
unified development environment across Java ME, Java SE, and Java
EE, with support for Eclipse becoming available alongside
the Eclipse
support timeline for Java SE 8, Java ME 8, and Java ME SDK
8
.

Conclusion

Earlier eras of the cell phone space saw fragmented hardware
that was, in many ways, similar to today’s embedded technology
space. Part of what ultimately helped spawn the explosive growth of
smartphones and mobile apps was the establishment of standard
development platforms, languages, and tools. 

Java ME 8 now offers just such a comprehensive, purpose-built
platform for connected embedded devices and the Internet of Things.
And with a stable of 9-million-plus Java developers already in the
field, the release offers not only vast new career possibilities,
but provides an industry-growth catalyst for the entire burgeoning
embedded space.

So get started today. Oracle
Java ME Embedded 8
 (the Oracle implementation of the Java
ME 8 standard) is now available
in Early Access form
 for the Raspberry Pi Model B (ARM11)
and STMicroelectronics STM32F4DISCOVERY (ARM Cortex-M4)
platforms.

And an Early
Access version of the Oracle Java ME SDK 8
 is also now
available—supporting development of Java ME 8 Early Access–based
applications in an emulation runtime for Windows 7 as well as for
the Raspberry Pi and STMicroelectronics devices mentioned
previously.

The Oracle Java ME Embedded 8 and Oracle Java ME SDK 8 Early
Access releases are available at no cost for evaluation and
development purposes under the Oracle
Technology Network Developer License
.

Originally published in the March/April 2014 issue
of Java MagazineSubscribe today.

About the authors 

meloan-headshot


Steve Meloan
 is a former C/UNIX software
developer who has covered the web and the internet for such
publications
as 
WiredRolling
Stone
PlayboySF
Weekly
, and the San Francisco
Examiner
.

 

 

 

barr-headshot


Terrence Barr
 is a senior technologist and
product manager at Oracle who focuses on the Internet of Things and
embedded technologies.

 

 

 

 

(1) Originally published in the March/April
2014 Edition of Java Magazine 
(2) Copyright © [2014] Oracle.

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TerrenceBarrandSteveMeloan

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