Sun Microsystems has released the first bits of the next version of Java, a programming API called the Java Foundation Classes (JFC). The JFC includes the graphical user interface elements of Java 1.2 (the current version is 1.1) as well as new "personality" settings. What the JFC does is allow programmers to create a customizable look and feel for their Java applets and applications. For example, if you'd like your Java app to have the Windows look and feel, this will make that happen. Other personalities include Mac and UNIX Motif. Additionally, there is a new "Java look and feel", code-named "Metal" and a few other personalities that aren't computer-specific.

Aside from personality support, the new JFC also includes an Accessibility API that allows assistive technologies such as screen magnifiers and speech recognition to interact with Java programs. A 2D API and drag and drop capability round out the new features.

For more information about Sun's new JFC, please visit the JavaSoft home page