Oracle has released a new version of its Java and Web services deployment environment - JDeveloper 10g - with added grid enablement and support for service-oriented architectures (SOAs).

SOA support brings greater flexibility to JDeveloper, the company claimed, to help with changing business requirements, such as integrating systems after an acquisition, customising hosted applications for a new client, or expanding data collection and analysis across several partners.

Other additions are support for Web services and compliance with the Web Services Interoperability Organisation Basic Profile 1.0. Plus a productivity layer to simplify development of Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) apps, called the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF). It also has support for JEEE 1.4 - which enables Web services in Java.

Each release of the JDeveloper toolset has made it easier for developers to write code, while also addressing the vast development market, said analyst Thomas Murphy of Meta Group. When JDeveloper first was released it was a standard coding environment, which was great for Java developers but not necessarily as good if the programmer coded in Oracle forms, he explained.

"So what they’ve been working on is to build a comprehensive toolset that will allow any Oracle customer to sit down and write code and write new servers and components, or sit down and use a very declarative programming model type of system."

The new release has many important additions in it, such Oracle’s consistent framework - the ADF. "They’ve really blended [past iterations] together to form a complete framework." Another important step forward is the ability to do some visual page flow and the inclusion of Web services.

Oracle is ranked number three for its application server, behind IBM and BEA. Now that Oracle has included support for its grid strategy in the JDeveloper 10g, it demonstrates that the company is trying to strengthen its position in the application server market, Murphy explained. "So they’ve got this additional piece of their business going on which is the app server," and they are also trying to beat IBM, he said.

Earlier this week, Sun launched its Java Application Server Platform Edition 8, touting its inclusion of J2EE 1.4 in an effort to break back into the market.