Oracle's slate of announcements for the JavaOne conference this week features upgrades to its application server and integrated development environment (IDE), as well as a kit to make it easier to work with the Spring Framework for Java development.

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), meanwhile, is key to the company's tools announcement at the show, including a technology donation to the Apache Software Foundation.

The planned 11g version of the Oracle Application Server boasts full support for the Java Enterprise Edition (EE) 5 specification, including Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 3, for persisting of data in applications to databases.

"With previous versions of EJB, developers found it too difficult to use and they ended up writing a bunch of code themselves in order to get the data out of the database," said Ted Farrell, Oracle chief architect and vice president of tools and middleware. "Now with EJB 3, it's really targeted much more for Java and Java programmers and it's designed to be a much easier system to use."

Although Oracle charges $5,000 (£2,507) per central processing unit (CPU) for its application server, the company believes it still has an advantage over free, open source, Java application servers like JBoss.

"While the actual technology might be free, people are still paying for support and consulting in a lot of cases," Farrell said.

An open source application server might require services to integrate with a product like a Tibco message system. But Oracle already is certified to work with Tibco's technology, said Farrell.

Also featured in the new application server is Java Persistence application programming interfaces (API), providing a lightweight version of EJB 3. Java API for XML Web Services (JAX-WS) is supported as well.

The new application server will be available as a developer preview this week with general availability eyed for sometime within a year. A couple of beta releases are expected in the meantime.

To bolster the Spring open source Java framework, Oracle will unveil tools, samples, and tutorials to simplify development of Spring applications as part of its Oracle Development Kit for Spring rollout. Although Spring itself has been geared to simplicity, ease of use really comes down to development tools support, Farrell said. The Spring tools are due this week.

In another effort targeting open source, Oracle plans to donate more than 80 AJAX-enabled JavaServer Faces components to Apache. The components help with the building of rich internet applications.

Also on tap for the conference are developer previews of the upcoming 11g versions of the JDeveloper IDE and Oracle's Application Development Framework. Both support rapid development of rich Internet applications via extensions to JavaServer Faces components.

"While a lot of our competitors and others in the market are saying that AJAX is great like we are, they want your developers to go learn the AJAX technologies in order to use them. In that case, developers need to learn JavaScript and HTML and learn about the different browsers that they're going to be working in," Farrell said. Oracle makes AJAX usage simpler, he said.