You should know about the J2EE SDK...
I'm still surprised at how many people are confused about Sun's J2EE 1.4 SDK. For example, did you know it has a production-quality Application Server that is free, even for deployments? Sun made a decision to do this two years ago, and for the last couple of years engineers in my neck of the woods at Sun have been working very hard to make the latest version of that AppServer (8.0 PE) into an artifact that is well suited for the developer community.
AppServer 8.0 PE uses technology from multiple sources. For example, the
JAXB and JAX-RPC implementations are verbatim from projects at Java.Net; while the
JAXP implementation and JSP, Servlet and JSTL implementations are based on the XML and Jakarta projects at Apache. Other pieces, like the JMS and EJB implementations are Sun internal. The result is a strong implementation of the latest J2EE standard, J2EE 1.4.
I think Sun has done a pretty good job with the AppServer 8.0 PE. There is still work to be done, but it is much better suited to the needs of developers than previous versions. And,
from the feedback I have seen, many people agree: we have seen a large number of
downloads and the download numbers are increasing.
I can't tell if AS 8.0 PE is the server-side container for you. Maybe you like Tomcat better, although 8.0 PE has a version of TC 5.0 in it. Maybe you like Jetty, or Resin, or maybe you like JBoss. Or WebLogic or WebSphere or something else. But I think you might want to check it out, read its
FAQ and, if that sounds interesting, perhaps
And, if you like it, vote for it at this week's poll :-).
Disclaimer: As a Sun employee working in the Java Platform group, I have carried two hats for the last 8 years. Most of the time I carry my Community Advocate hat; sometimes my Sun Employee hat; most of the time both hats (and the reason why I work at Sun is because for the most part these two hats are well aligned). I am carrying both hats for this blog - perhaps with a bigger Sun hat than usual :-)