The world has come a long way since Duke first started tumbling in early versions of Netscape Navigator. Java has outgrown its humble origins as a cool way of providing interactivity on Web pages and has found a new role as a major, server-side development platform. The actual Java language has changed little in the intervening years, but an enterprise-quality infrastructure has risen up around it. This infrastructure, Java 2 Enterprise Edition or J2EE for short, allows Java developers the ability to create sophisticated and powerful enterprise applications that provide mission-critical functionality for many thousands of users.

Unlike competing platforms, such as Microsoft .NET, J2EE is a specification rather than a product. The capabilities ...

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