Sun's embrace of dynamic scripting languages expands the reaches of the JVM.
You gotta give Sun credit. It used to be that one needed a degree in CS to develop network software. Now, with the emergence of and reach of dynamic languages like PHP, Ruby, and Python, the game is changing. With just a little saavy and Google to guide you, it's possible for the average techie to build and deploy a useful, working web applications. Need servlets, jars, wars, ears? Forget about it! A scripting language, a server and a datastore (rdb or xml) now gets you a web presence. And if your idea is good, some deep pockets company may just sweep you up to buyout heaven.
So how is Sun playing in this space? It's the JVM!
As Tim Bray points out, Java has three legs: the Java language, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and the Java libraries. One of the big excitements here at JavaOne is JRuby, the Ruby language executable on the JVM! No longer just a vehicle to run Java, the JVM continues to be tooled for performance and capabilities that allow other languages to execute its byte codes. Starting to sound like Microsoft's CLR with multiple languages compiled to a common core? Yes indeed. What's really cool about JRuby is that you can generate a war file that you can deploy on your favorite web server just like a servlet - except it's JRuby. Check it out at: http://jruby.codehaus.org/
and also check out NetBeans 6.0 with built in JRuby editing and compilation support; more info at http://wiki.netbeans.org/NetbeansedJRuby
Why does Sun care about dynamic scripting languages? Because the tech world does. From all reports, we're at a language inflection point where we are seeing a proliferation of languages that assume the web exists and developers want to deploy on it. This is quite different from the world that gave us C++ and even Java. Interestingly, the JVM is capable of handling these languages and developers care because they want to get the advantage of a dynamic language as well as framedworks such as Rails, the popular Model View Controller (MVC) framework that allows rapid development of web apps that talk to databases (and what webapp doesn't?).
Also generating lots of buzz is JavaFX, an XML-like scripting language that generates Java and is declarative. You tell it what you want and you get it. JavaFX is looking to position itself as an alternative to Adobe's Flex and Microsoft's Silverlight and the demos I saw were quite impressive. Read more at http://www.sun.com/software/javafx/index.jsp