News and New Product Briefs (10/01/97)

Symbol offers wireless, pen-based NC

Symbol Technologies is ready to debut the PPT 4300, its pen-based mobile thin client with backlit VGA screen, familiar QWERTY keyboard, and pen -- all in a tough package that weighs approximately three pounds.

The PPT 4300 uses an integrated 2.4GHz radio to maintain a connection to the network (LAN or WAN). Citrix's WinFrame software allows the NC to access Windows applications. It also supports several operating systems (DOS, Windows 3.x, and Windows 95) and terminal emulation (VT220 or 3270), making it easy to run apps and update files from a server.

The ,950 PPT 4300 uses ROM and flash memory, which should allow it to run for up to six hours before recharging, according to Symbol officials. First plans are to use the units in a hospital setting, to access and update patient records from a patient's bedside.

Here comes the JavaStation (finally)

October 1997 will be the one-year anniversary of the introduction of Sun's JavaStation. It may also mark the commercial release of the network-centric device.

The JavaStation is due out this quarter, complete with the integrated 100MHz MicroSPARC IIep processor, which comes with a built-in PCI interface, memory management, and floating-point capability. The device will also come with a Java-optimized just-in-time (JIT) compiler.

Perhaps the real news is not this release of the JavaStation but what will come with the next (and subsequent) releases. According to product marketing director Steve Tirado, here are some JavaStation enhancements to look forward to:

  • Multiple bus -- support for multiple bus interfaces, including PCI, USB (Universal Serial Bus), and 1394. Sun is already hammering out solutions with add-in-card and other peripheral vendors to develop supporting PCI, USB, and 1394 software drivers. Expect multiple-bus support by mid-1998.
  • Communications hardware -- Sun is making the JavaStation hardware communications-friendly with support planned for Token-Ring, ISDN, and asymmetric digital subscriber line.
  • Java-specific processors -- Sun plans to incorporate the MicroJava processors into the JavaStation. MicroJava processors execute Java natively, reducing memory needs.
  • Open boot -- as part of a Solaris management package, Sun plans to include Windows NT boot APIs to make a JavaStation bootable from both Solaris- and NT-based servers.

DialAmerica telemarketing buys 4,100 Neoware NCs

DialAmerica Marketing (which markets magazine subscriptions for more than 60 percent of the magazine publishing market) has purchased 4,100 @workStations from Neoware to be installed in 70 DialAmerica telemarketing call centers. This will create one of the largest deployments of network computers to date.

In the call centers, employees connect headsets to the @workStations and use an on-screen telephone icon to activate the call, at the same time viewing the calling customer's data. Besides the online phone and customer database access, DialAmerica employees can use word processors to compose letters and email to communicate with co-workers and supervisors.

"We selected the @workStation because it has the simplicity of a terminal with the advanced networking capabilities we need," said Russ Martocci, DialAmerica's senior VP. "Compared with personal computers, the Neoware NCs are much easier to use, and they'll cost significantly less to maintain." He added, "Because of the flexibility of the Neoware machines and the Neoware netOS operating system, we were able to create custom applications for our unique environment."

Symantec ships two new editions of Visual Cafe for Java 2.0 family

Symantec has made available two new editions of its Visual Cafe for Java 2.0 product family: the Professional Development Edition, an advanced, multi-platform, RAD tool for developing Java applets and applications; and the Web Development Edition, an entry-level, easy-to-use, full-featured integrated Java and HTML authoring tool.

The Professional Development Edition is the third-generation release of Symantec's Java development tool for Windows 95 and NT 4.0, and is designed for use by developers who need to write, debug, and deploy powerful Java-based Internet and intranet applets and apps.

What makes Visual Cafe for Java 2.0 Professional Development Edition special? It gives developers faster compilation, compilation of Java source directly to native x86-based code, integrated support for JDK 1.1, JavaBeans, and incremental debugging. This edition includes Version 2.0 of Symantec's Visual Cafe IDE.

This tool is available now and is expected to sell at 99.95. Upgrades from Symantec Cafe and Symantec Visual Cafe are offered for 9.

The Web Development Edition lets Webmasters add Java functionality to their Web pages without having to learn Java programming. It's also useful for professional developers who are new to Java and who need to write, debug, and deploy Java apps across multiple platforms.

The estimated price for this entry-level tool is 9.95 and includes the latest version of Symantec Visual Cafe for Java 2.0, as well as Symantec's Visual Page HTML Web authoring application and Preview Release Netscape Communicator with JDK 1.1 support. To assist Java novices, Visual Cafe for Java 2.0 Web Development Edition also includes the book Teach Yourself Java 1.1 in 21 Day by Laura Lemay and Charles L. Perkins.

Blue Lobster paves the way to Web/mainframe connectivity

To give corporate and third-party developers the ability to establish Web-to-mainframe connectivity, Blue Lobster Software Inc. has released a Java-based software development kit (Stingray 3270 SDK) and server software (Mako Server).

The two products work together, allowing developers to either connect to a mainframe through 3270 terminal emulation or connect directly to CICS-based (mainframe transaction processing system) servers. According to Blue Lobster, these two product offer an alternative to Web-to-mainframe tools and applications and help eliminate the need for developers to use proprietary servers and languages.

The Mako Server includes the Mako client, a full implementation of the CICS ECI set of interfaces, and software for transparent mapping of CORBA to CICS and to JavaBeans. The Stingray 3270 SDK and the Mako Server are both available now. The Stingray SDK costs 95. Contact the company for pricing on the Mako Server.

IBM won't make NetPCs

IBM announced it won't deliver a NetPC-compatible device, even though it plans a line of low-end PCs that incorporate some NetPC features.

Feedback from inside IBM, as well as from corporate clients, convinced the company that the most financially lucrative path would be to build manageability features into its desktops, rather than to build NetPC-specific units. Corporate users told IBM they didn't foresee much need for NetPCs.

"Our users were telling us they don't want a unique device for better manageability," said Jim McGann, worldwide marketing director for the IBM PC. "They want better manageability in all systems. They need a common management platform that fits into their enterprise architecture. Users told us we were right on with the manageability we had in the GL system we released in April, the XL in May, and the PL in August. They wanted us to continue focusing on these sorts of systems instead of something unique." These systems had such built-in management features as Wake On LAN and LAN Client Control Manager.

The new line of low-end Pentium PCs, due in October 1997, are variations of the 300 GL systems. They will run Windows 95 or NT 4.0, be sealed without a floppy drive, and cost about ,000.

And even though the NetPC may have been created solely to divert attention from the NC, PC manufacturers may have learned a valuable lesson. IDC analyst Bruce Stephen put it this way: "There was this rush to [build a NetPC] and be part of this group that was created largely to go against the mindshare. Many vendors were doing it for marketing purposes and to be part of a united front against NCs." He added that the lesson PC makers can learn from the NetPC is that it's better to focus on broader capabilities (such as, management tools) which can be used with a whole range of products, rather than focus on a single "form factor."

Where (and what) is the NetPC now?

The NetPC, the Microsoft/Intel answer to stall (and perhaps, destroy) the concept of network-centric computing, may be fading into the background, as PC makers add more management features to their devices and the cost of PCs comes down. These changes have confused the concept of the NetPC with a regular PC in the minds of resellers and customers.

So what are analysts and former supporters saying now about the NetPC?

Kimball Brown, Dataquest: "There never was any point to the whole NetPC thing. It was just the first iteration of managed PCs. It was just the attitude: 'We have to make noise against the ugly specter called the network computer'."

Tom Rhinelander, Forrester Research: "It was a silly concept from the beginning. Nobody understood the terminology. There just wasn't much excitement among end users."

Rick Belluzzo, Hewlett-Packard VP/GM: "PC pricing has come down rapidly recently, so the position of the NetPC is a little less clear. I also think people are increasingly understanding that the issue of cost of ownership is the way you manage your Internet and having the technology to remotely control and diagnose the product. I think that's the area where the NetPC doesn't solve the problem."

Bruce Stephen, IDC: "There was this rush to [build a NetPC] and be part of this group that was created largely to go against the mindshare. Many vendors were doing it for marketing purposes and to be part of a united front against NCs."

Jim McGann, IBM marketing director: "[The NetPC specification] is only four months old. It's in its infancy still. Our users were telling us they don't want a unique device for better manageability. They want better manageability in all systems."

NetCOBOL enables Internet access to COBOL apps

Fujitsu Software Corp. announced NetCOBOL, a COBOL compiler that generates Java-based applications and applets from legacy COBOL programs.

NetCOBOL programs run on any device equipped with the Java virtual machine. The programs can run as Java applications or applets. The generated programs comply with the full ANSI COBOL standard, X3.23B 1989. NetCOBOL comes with event-driven GUI programming extensions that are platform-independent. It has an embedded SQL preprocessor with JDBC support, so your generated apps/applets can use data from DB2, Oracle, Sybase, and SQL Server databases. You can create interactive COBOL-driven Web pages, as well as mix COBOL and Java code in the same program.

NetCOBOL is an add-on component to Fujitsu COBOL Professional and costs 50. It runs on Windows 95 and NT 4.0.

More Java wars: No applets on Microsoft's site

Tim Sinclair, editor-in-chief of the Microsoft Web site, has decided to remove the Java applets from Microsoft's site.

Of the more than 570 applets, Sinclair said, "I made the directive for two reasons. Sometimes they [the applets] are large, and downloading [takes a long time]. And we are looking for better compatibility across browsers and other platforms." Sinclair's ban is generally for the navigational Java applets, and some exceptions may be made.

It should take between 30 and 60 days to remove the applets. Plans are to use HTML and JavaScript in place of the Java applets.

And what does Sun say?

"They're cutting off their nose to spite their face," said George Paolini, director of corporate marketing. Paolini said that removing the applets is like "putting your finger in the dike of a floodgate that is open right now."

Network and Java-based computing: Oracle creates new site

Oracle's new network computing Web site advertises the concept of network-centric computing. It begins with the "N-slash-C" logo, which disappears to be replaced with the words "not complicated," "not costly," "no compromises," and "network computing." You are then whisked to a series of six photos, each linked to a concise philosophy on various aspects of network computing.

The topics: The requisite overview ("What is Network Computing?"); Developers (Why develop Java apps, how to develop, and so on); Education (leveraging the easy maintenance and control); Business (TCO); MIS/IT (really leveraging the easy maintenance and control); and Home (someone's fantasy).

If someone is new to the idea of network computing or needs to convince their employer that network computing is the way to go, this site presents a clear picture of the NC concept and provides some rationale of Java-based network-centric computing.

Oracle rewrites Enterprise Manager database software in Java

Oracle is rewriting its Enterprise Manager database management console in Java to increase portability and remote access capabilities, and to add capacity planning and change management modules.

With the newly revised Enterprise Manager, users can manage databases over the Internet with a Java-enabled browser, accessing via a URL from an NC or PC. The product includes a runtime version of Oracle's Web Application Server to run Web-based software. It also will have a Java agent that resides on the database. The capacity planning module will follow system usage and prompt the user as to when to replace a disk or add new capacity to the system. The change manager module will update applications when changes are made between the developed and deployed systems.

Enterprise Manager is due in beta in October '97; Oracle hopes to ship it (and the various modules) by March '98. Although it now executes only on NT systems, soon it will support Unix platforms. The console will be bundled with Oracle databases, and the modules will cost extra (a departure from Oracle's usual bundling scheme).

Oracle's new OO tools strategy is Java

Now that Sedona is buried, with what will Oracle replace the object-oriented tools project? According to Sohaib Abbasi, senior VP of Oracle's tools division, it will be a set of class libraries for building Java objects, called Java Business Objects.

The Java Business Objects will be a set of class libraries for capturing definitions, methods, rules, and validations of objects that can be reused. They will function with Oracle tools, such as the new Java IDE and Designer/2000 toolset, as well as third-party Java or HTML tools. Java IDE (shipping by the end of 1997) is designed to help developers write Java code for clients or servers.

Java Business Objects is due in beta by Spring 1998. The planned shipping date is sometime in Summer 1998.

It's "Java Everywhere" news from Oracle's OpenWorld

Java seems to be the topic of the day in announcements from Oracle OpenWorld 97, which took place in Los Angeles from September 21 through 26.

The Oracle8.1 version of the company's database will include a Java virtual machine by late 1998, so Java applets can be executed in the database server.

Oracle will release an object repository to provide Java Business Objects definitions, facilities for impact analysis, and mechanisms to merge multiple versions of objects. The repository will come with the Java Business Objects. Oracle plans to integrate it with Developer/2000 by early 1999.

Oracle announced the availability of Java Database Connectivity drivers, used to build Java apps that support access to the Oracle database.

Also from the show:

  • The company plans to license Tibco's Tibco/Rendezvous publish-and-subscribe technology for Oracle8.1. With Tibco/Rendezvous, Oracle's products will be able to publish notifications of events to subscribers based on database events.
  • The Sales and Analyzer and Oracle Financial Analyzer OLAP for Sun Microsystems servers is now available at a starting price of 2,500.
  • The Procedural Gateway for IBM MQSeries is available. The product is used to integrate Oracle applications with IBM's MQSeries messaging system.
  • Oracle Applications Release 11 is planned for release in early 1998. This version features self-service Web support, globalization, and networked chain-supply support.
  • In October 1997, Oracle plans to release Developer/2000 2.0, which will feature dynamic Web publishing support.
  • Open Gateway for Windows NT is available now. It is used to access multiple-platform data from an NT machine.

Umax and NCI plan Intel-based NCs using NC Desktop

Umax Data Systems plans to build and sell network computers based on x86 Intel microprocessors; the client software, NC Desktop, will be licensed from Network Computer Inc. (NCI).

Umax plans to ship the NCs in November 1997. The NCs will be available first in Europe, then distribution will extend into North America.

First off the line: a 200MHz Pentium for less than 00. This will include a built-in Ethernet interface, graphic and sound cards, smart card readers, and a standard PC keyboard and mouse.

Umax considers the NC a strong market segment in the near future. "The network computer is a tremendous productivity, communications, and information access device for corporate networks and intranets," said Karen Tsou, sales and marketing VP of the Umax Communication Business Group. And NCI has every confidence that the experience Umax brings to this deal will enable the company to deliver an excellent NC device. "Umax's manufacturing experience in the Macintosh compatible market," said Bonnie Crater, NCI strategic marketing VP, "will help deliver affordable, reliable, and easy-to-use network computer products to our corporate customers."

No substantive information was available on the individual sites at press time.

Netscape's new JavaBeans client one of thinnest ever

Netscape is developing an HTML-rendering JavaBean, a container for JavaBeans that will render images and content based on the types of data being accessed. And officials call it one of the thinnest Web clients designed.

Netscape's strategy with the slim Bean is to be able to offer a Web client that can run on any hardware -- even old PCs. The HTML-rendering Bean (think of it as a browser-lite) will be able to run on 486 machines with only 8 megabytes of RAM. The client downloads only the Beans with the code necessary for the specific type of information the user is accessing.

The various Beans with the datatype code will be stored in an open library on the new Netscape Netcenter on Netscape's site. "99 percent of the stuff you want is on the network. Netcenter is the aggregation point for Beans that come down on the fly as needed," said Marc Andreessen, Netscape's senior technology VP.

Don't confuse the new slim client with the Javagator 100 percent Java browser that Sun and Netscape are developing. The small browser is due as a pre-release by the end of 1997. Javagator isn't due until April 1998. For continuing information, check out Netscape's site.

Computer Associates will integrate Java into Unicenter

Computer Associates (CA) has decided to integrate Java features into its Unicenter TNG systems management product. CA's first foray -- its Web browser interface -- is going beta.

The browser interface, available four months from now in beta release, allows Java-based browsers to be a console for Unicenter, letting the user access all Unicenter functions to monitor and remotely manage all the systems covered by Unicenter. Currently, that includes about 40 different platforms, such as desktops, Windows NT, NetWare, and Unix environments. Soon, Java-based machines and applications will be added to the list when CA finishes work on its series of Java agents.

CA's plans to divide the agents into three management levels, said Anders Vinberg, senior development VP. The first Java agent, the systems agent, will be out soon and will allow Unicenter to monitor and remotely manage Java servers and machines.

The second level is the API agents. CA is developing Unicenter APIs so third-party developers can construct Java application agents that will give Unicenter remote control abilities over specific applications at a granular level. Release timing on the APIs are not determined.

The third management level is Java virtual machine agents. These agents will let Unicenter watch and control Java operating systems events (like multiple threads) at a granular level. The company expects these agents to be available before 1999.

Sybase's complementary DB products get Java support

Before the end of 1997, Sybase has promised to offer Java support for its Adaptive Server Anywhere mobile desktop software to make it easier for application developers to program and deploy Java apps.

How? Developers normally couldn't reuse the server business logic (written in SQL) on the clients without having to rewrite the logic in Visual Basic or C. With Java support, business logic modules become reusable, similar to component-based logic.

Java support for the Adaptive Server Enterprise and Adaptive Server IQ is expected by late 1998.

The Java announcements surrounded the Sybase launch of its Adaptive Server 11.5 database during the week of September 19, 1997.

What will Microsoft's alternatives to Java mean for Sun?

Microsoft detailed its approach to Web-based applications development at its recent Professional Developer's Conference. It seems the company plans to stroke Java lovingly with one hand while pulling Redmond-friendly alternatives out with the other hand.

And the alternatives that Microsoft pulled out for creating Web-based content include HTML, Dynamic HTML, and Extensible Markup Language (XML) technologies. Officials debuted HTML-based scripting tools, at the same time stuffing Java into the Microsoft toolbox as a high-level alternative to C++. Only advanced programmers need apply.

Java may be too much for some applications, intimated Tod Nielsen, Microsoft developer relations marketing general manager. "Dynamic HTML, along with XML, coupled with scripting, is by far the most pragmatic way to write cross-platform, client-side applications," said Nielsen. He also proposed Microsoft's COM-based scriptlets as an alternative to Java.

Tom Johnston, Microsoft group product manager for platform marketing, added that performance and compatibility issues will slow Java's acceptance. "The promise of Java is to write once, run anywhere. We can prove that that's not true, and it will get worse, not better," said Johnston.

Rockwell readies a Java processor

Rockwell Avionics & Communications has developed the JEM1, a low-cost microprocessor that directly executes Java code, with no need for interpreters or compilers.

Initially designed for advanced avionics, the JEM1 is 0.5 microns thin, 6mm-squared, and requires relatively low voltage, making it ideal for hand-held devices, such as mobile NCs. The CPU includes an interrupt controller and two programmable timers with support for 32-, 16-, and 8-bit external data bus support. Pricing and ship dates were not available at press time.

Sun to yank Microsoft's Java license?

On September 22, 1997, another shot was heard in the Microsoft/Java wars as Sun threatened to pull Microsoft's Java license.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy told a CNBC correspondent that Microsoft was close to violating its Java license agreement. Sun spokesperson Lisa Poulson said Sun is studying how Microsoft is using Java in its Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0 browser, to determine whether a violation to the licensing agreement exists. She wouldn't speculate on whether the only recourse would be to cancel Microsoft's license to Java.

According to Poulson, Sun would know about violations sometime next week. IE 4.0 is scheduled for release on September 30.

Finjan receives 0m from data security companies

Finjan has garnered 0 million in support from investors to help it educate the market about Java/ActiveX security issues and to develop security products. The investors include Security Dynamics Technologies, RSA Data Security, Bessemer Venture Partners, Apex Investment Partners, RRE Investors, and CSK Japan.

"This financing will fuel our campaign to educate the market about Java and ActiveX security, and provide our partners in the Java Security Alliance with multi-layered solutions to secure enterprise intranets," said Shlomo Touboul, Finjan's CEO, president, and founder. "We now have the resources in place to distribute our software to an industry waiting to unleash the power of Java and ActiveX."

Finjan's Java Security Alliance (JSA) is a coalition of high-tech companies with the common goal of secure deployment of Java Internet technology for the enterprise, founded in January 1997. The JSA has as its members Cisco Systems, Raptor Systems, Trusted Information Systems, CheckPoint Software, Digital, Network-1, Milkyway Networks, Secure Computing, ANS Communications, and Aventail.

Borland and Microsoft settle lawsuit

Borland International and Microsoft have settled a Borland-launched lawsuit that started on May 7, 1997, in Santa Clara County, CA. In the suit Borland alleged that Microsoft had hired 34 Borland employees over the past 30 months in order to steal Borland trade secrets.

This sort of lawsuit is not unusual in today's competitive world, but the scope of the charges is. In the suit, Borland claims Microsoft offered and delivered expensive lures to Borland workers. In two cases, incentives topping million. The suit also claimed that Microsoft used ex-Borland workers to lure more Borland employees.

According to the suit:

  • Among the defecting workers were Paul Gross, Borland's senior R&D VP, and Anders Hejlsberg, a major player in the development of Borland's technology.
  • Microsoft offered Paul Gross a million signing bonus, stock options, and title to real estate near Microsoft's headquarters. He left Borland for Microsoft in September 1996.
  • Microsoft offered Anders Hejlsberg a signing bonus of .5 million and stock options. Microsoft doubled the bonus to million after Borland made a counter-offer. Hejlsberg left Borland in October 1996.

The market in question is software development tools: Microsoft owns about 60 percent of this market, and Borland is its closest competitor.

In a joint statement, Borland and Microsoft said, "We believe this settlement is in the best interest of both our companies. This settlement resolves any legal questions surrounding the lawsuit and allows both companies to move forward."

With that short statement, both companies have agreed to make no further comments on the settlement. Details of the settlement are confidential.

DLT Solutions and NCI to resell NCI NC Server to Feds

DLT Solutions, an Oracle VAR, has announced it will work with NCI to resell NC Server software to the federal government. Its program is called the "NC Network in the Box."

NC Network in the Box consists of

  • NCI's NC Server software
  • an NEC Pentium-based appliance with NC Server (and the client side NC Desktop) pre-loaded
  • two Intel-based Funai NC devices
  • two Schlumberger user NC cards
  • one Schlumberger administrator NC card
  • a five-port network hub and cabling

Additional NC devices are available from DLT.

"The NC Network in the Box is a great way for government offices and workgroups in corporations to rapidly deploy their own network computer system," said Bonnie Crater, NCI VP of strategic marketing. "In less than an hour a complete network can be deployed to run productivity and Web-enabled applications, email, and accessing information from the Web."

Java accelerates, closes performance gap on Visual C++

Cats Software, an independent ISV in Palo Alto, CA, has performed math-intensive performance tests on Java and found that the performance differences between Java and C++ are much less than the company expected.

When Cats Software ran a Partial Differential Equations test, it discovered Java's performance was only 4 to 10 percent slower than that of C++. The ISV expected Java to be hundreds of times slower. In fact, Cats CTO Jim Kleckner said, "These results are staggering." Cats used the JDK 1.1.3 with the beta version of the Java Performance Pack (with Symantec's JIT compiler). It ran the tests against Microsoft's Visual C++ 5.0.

Anne Thomas, a senior consultant at the Patricia Seybold Group, wasn't surprised at the results. "It is possible to obtain reasonable speeds with Java as long as you have a good architecture," said Thomas.

The InfoWorld Test Center verified Cats Software's results.

Borland training tour schedule

Borland International, the DSW Group, Softbite International, and Informant Communications Group have announced a 20-city training tour for Borland's JBuilder line of visual development tools for Java.

The JBuilder training is separated into two full-day sessions. Day one covers Java fundamentals, to help developers understand Java development, the JBuilder environment, and how to develop platform-independent applications in Java. The topics for the first day include:

  • Java Language Fundamentals
  • Creating Packages and Classes
  • Applications vs. Applets
  • Handling Events in Java
  • Scoping in Java
  • Working with Projects
  • Using the JBuilder Design Tools
  • Fundamentals of UI Design
  • Using JavaBeans Components
  • Java Debugging Techniques
  • a Component Review (JavaBeans, AWT, Controls, Containers, Dialogs, Sun Applets)

Day two is designed for developers who want to be power users of Java and JBuilder. Topics include:

  • Leveraging Object-oriented Programming in Java
  • Implementing Java Interface Classes
  • Working with Class Libraries
  • Fundamentals of Java Virtual Machine Security
  • Using JDBC
  • Working with Databases
  • Creating Database Forms
  • Fundamentals of IP Network Programming
  • Creating Sophisticated User Interfaces
  • Using JBuilder's Applet Wizard
  • Deploying Applications and Applets

The tour also includes classes on Delphi and C++ Builder. Following is a schedule of cities and dates. More information is available on site.

CityDelphi & C++Builder SessionsJBuilder Sessions
TorontoSeptember 15-17September 18-19
CalgarySeptember 22-24September 25-26
AnaheimSeptember 22-24September 25-26
OrlandoSeptember 29-October 1October 2-3
VancouverSeptember 29-October 1October 2-3
DenverOctober 6-8October 9-10
PhiladelphiaOctober 13-15October 16-17
PhoenixOctober 13-15October 16-17
CharlotteOctober 20-22October 23-24
San DiegoOctober 27-29October 30-31
AtlantaOctober 27-29October 30-31
New JerseyNovember 3-5November 6-7
BostonNovember 10-12November 13-14
SeattleNovember 10-12November 13-14
HoustonNovember 17-19November 20-21
OttawaNovember 24-26November 27-28
Washington, DCDecember 1-3December 4-5
San FranciscoDecember 1-3December 4-5
ChicagoDecember 8-10December 11-12
Salt Lake CityDecember 8-10December 11-12

NTT Data creates descriptive Java search software

NTT Data Communications has developed Java descriptive Internet search software called Appelet. The software was designed for use on a network and is loaded onto network servers and accessible from the Internet.

Appelet acts like a regular homepage search engine when searching for items on the Internet. It also can record the search conditions. The software and data stop at the server (in other words, the user is not required to download these items to his/her desktop); then the user can access the information from the server.

Remedy Flashboards: A Java help desk monitor

Remedy Corp. is debuting Flashboards 2.0, a Java application that will allow users and customers to view help-desk status through any Web browser. This means you can check to see how busy your favorite help desk is before you waste your time waiting for help online.

With Flashboards 2.0, users can monitor help-desk response times to support service-level agreements or to see how busy the help desk is. Customers can view their position in the line, watch how long it takes CSRs to resolve others' questions, and even follow specific problems to see how long they take to solve. And it's not just for favorite (maintenance contract) customers.

Help desk managers (and IT monitors) can use the Flashboards Java client for spot statistics -- to demonstrate that they are (or are not) meeting performance goals, and to identify and follow problem areas in order to correct them.

The Java client for Flashboards is already integrated with Remedy's centralized help desk application, the Action Request System (ARS). Flashboards was originally designed as a real-time display for ARS. When Java and other Internet technologies took off, Remedy officials saw an opportunity to extend Flashboards to other users. (Without the Java rewrite, Flashboards requires a special client on each user's workstation to view the help desk data.)

Flashboards 2.0 comes with a Free Access Flashboard -- sort of an organization-wide license to one Flashboard on the Web, so everyone in the organization (that the administrator allows) can access the help desk. The product is shipping in October 1997 for 6,500. That includes a server, five user licenses, a proxy server, and a Java applet.

Study shows: Smart card market hits 6 billion by 2005

A recent Killen and Associates study predicts the smart card market (especially since Java has added greater functionality) will achieve a compound annual growth rate of 59 percent in 1998. If this CAGR is realized, the market should reach .6 billion in the year 2000 (in 1996, it was .2 billion). After the year 2000, the study predicts it will increase at a slower CAGR of 16 percent, bringing a market of 6 billion.

The study also said that the U.S. growth in the smart card market may slow down mainly because of a reluctance to give up the existing technology that surrounds credit card transactions. The study forsees the fastest growth areas in personal ATM cards for home computers and smart phones. (Run the card through your PC or phone, then go online and order -- the cost is deducted straight from your account.)

App deployment/management made easy with new BulletProof tool

BulletProof showcased Deployment Manager, a new component of the JDesignerPro 2.2 system. Deployment Manager helps the developer/network administrator deploy and manage Java applications on any local or remote server, whether it's on the corporate intranet or somewhere on the Internet.

With no coding or HTML, Deployment Manager offers an automated way to put fresh apps on the Web. Menu maintenance, HTML creation, access control, and application module transport all are effected from one screen. Developers compile the new app and then add the module to their application structure.

Deployment Manager (JDesignerPro 2.2) is compatible with:

  • Netscape SuiteSpot (and other Netscape servers), Netscape One, and Navigator and Communicator
  • Windows 95, NT, NT Server, Internet Explorer, and Visual J++
  • Oracle
  • Informix
  • Sybase
  • Sun Netra servers and the JavaStation

JDesignerPro 2.2 (with Deployment Manager) is available for free download.

Netsation's Network Configurator simplifies router setup

"Oh no! Please don't make me configure the routers!" If Netsation's Network Configurator lives up to its promise, network managers may never have to utter these words again.

Usually, whenever you purchase a new network device, it comes with its own configuration tool. In a multivendor environment that has grown relatively slowly (one router at a time), you could end up with all the setup/configure tools in the world. Since it is Java-based, Network Configurator should help eliminate the toolbox clutter -- as well as the learning curve.

Network Configurator 1 is designed to help IT managers consolidate and automate router configuration, making it easier and faster to set up and change router and switch configuration, regardless of whether you're running a homogeneous or multivendor network. With it, administrators can drag and drop device templates and navigate configuration information through the browser.

The first version of Netsation (to be demonstrated at the October NetWorld+Interop show in Atlanta) will only work with some Cisco routers and Ascend Communications' WAN switches. Version 1 will cost 5,000, and can manage 50 routers or switches.

ObjectSpace Voyager Java object request broker available

ObjectSpace announced Voyager Core Technology, a Java object request broker (ORB) that supports mobile objects and autonomous agents. The package also includes services for persistence, scalable group communication, and basic directory service.

Voyager can use and complement the features found in other ORBs or agents -- such as CORBA, RMI, aglets, and Odyssey -- or it can combine the features from these technologies into a single platform. Voyager gives the developer the option to mix three distributed computing models -- client/server, peer-based, and agent-based -- into a custom combo. With it, developers can:

  • Communicate or activate any Java class or JavaBean, remote or local
  • Rapidly create autonomous agents that continue to execute as they roam the network
  • Restrict foreign object operations (with optional Security Manager module)
  • Persist objects to different databases without modifying code
  • Name and locate objects using a federated directory service

The binary version of the Voyager Core Technology is free (although use in an embedded device or redistribution with hardware requires a license). Support for Voyager is sold as an annual contract on a per-user basis (the support includes full-service problem resolution, major and minor product upgrades, access to member-only sections, downloads on the ObjectSpace Web site, and participation in all future beta access programs).

ProtoSpeed from Progress, a distributed object debugger for Internet applications

Progress Software introduced ProtoSpeed, a distributed object debugger for Internet applications that can improve Internet error detection and debugging.

The Java-based ProtoSpeed offers packet modification on the fly and preview functionality so developers can get instant feedback without changing the application source code. ProtoSpeed supports Internet protocols such as HTTP, FTP, SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4, so developers can simultaneously debug local or remote Java objects with or without the source code. The Network Event Manager opens up access to distributed components. So developers can use Visual Basic or Visual J++ to debug protocol interactions between components, in whatever language they're written.

ProtoSpeed runs on Windows 95 or NT 4.0. It will normally cost 95, but through the end of 1997, the cost is 95. An evaluation version is available on site.

NCR starts a thin-client migration program for enterprise customers

NCR has started the NCR Thin Client Program for the Enterprise, a program/package designed to help businesses easily launch into thin-client computing.

Included in the program is NCR's Administrator Software, Citrix's WinFrame thin client/server software, and two versions of the NCR 2990 TC NC. One version of the NC handles a variety of network terminal emulators (a re-marketed Boundless Viewpoint Thin Client); the other works as a Windows-based terminal (re-marketed Boundless Viewpoint Network Computer) equipped with local Citrix ICA thin-client support. The NCR Administrator Software is a system management utility that simplifies the administration of software and hardware configuration, upgrades, and allows for routine system maintenance -- all from a centralized location.

Another aspect of the program calls on a specific NCR area of expertise -- Windows NT support. A wide range of NT-based IT support services are available, including life-cycle support and business consulting.

Intel's Java-based QuickWeb takes the wait out of the Web

Intel announced plans for a new Java-based technology, called QuickWeb, that should make Web pages load faster (by as much as 50 percent) by compressing images and caching frequently visited pages.

QuickWeb will compress images by eliminating duplicate pixels. Intel officials claim that the loss of image quality will be barely noticeable. And as for caching frequently visited pages, QuickWeb will store these pages on the ISP's server. The pages can be directed to automatically update, so the user gets the freshest page. QuickWeb includes a Web-O-Meter feature: a small screen that pops up for the first few seconds of a download to show how much faster the page is loading. Another feature is the Speed Selector, a window that gives users a choice between a quick, image-compressed download and the original version.

Users don't need to install any software; the feature can be toggled off or on through the Web browser.

Intel is beta testing QuickWeb now with ISPs NETCOM, Sprint, and GlobalCenter, affecting about 1,200 customers. If you're an ISP and you'd like to become a beta tester, contact Intel.

QuickWeb requires (at minimum) an Intel-compatible 486 PC equipped with 8 megabytes of RAM, and Navigator 3.x, Communicator 4.x, or Internet Explorer 3.0x.

Schlumberger ships more Java card dev kits than expected

Schlumberger Electronic Transactions claims that demand for its Java card Cyberflex Development Kits have exceeded its expectations, only weeks after announcing the kit's availability. Although numbers were unavailable at press time, Schlumberger officials said the company had already sold hundreds of kits to developers.

The Cyberflex Development Kit includes two Cyberflex cards, a smart card reader and writer peripheral device, and a CD-ROM with a suite of PC software tools. The Cyberflex cards contain a Java virtual machine. One of Cyberflex's attributes is that applications can be added or removed from the cards after they are manufactured, which lowers support and new product introduction costs.

Citibank was one of the first developers of a Cyberflex Java card application, and the company sees the Java card as a central technology for its future. "Java Card will be a strategic delivery vehicle for Citibank. We are using cards to demonstrate easy Java Card application loading and use," said Henry A. Lichstein, Citibank VP for Horizon Planning.

The Open Group to offer CORBA compliance test suite

In December 1997, The Open Group will release a test suite for the CORBA 2.1 specification, a test that will determine whether a product conforms to the spec. Then The Open Group will offer branding and certification of object request broker products.

The test suite begins beta testing in October 1997. The set of distributed tools will be able to check core ORB APIs, static and dynamic interfaces, the CORBA interface repository, the Internet Inter-ORB Protocol, and CORBA language mappings (at first, C and C++). The suite is expected to cost 5,000 for a 10-year license; support and maintenance are extra.

To brand products, vendors will perform the tests on their software, then submit the results to The Open Group. After approval (also known as registration), the vendors can use The Open Group trademark on their products.

IBM, Sun Microsystems, Iona Technologies, ICL, and Fujistu are early adopters of the program.

Will Apple get Sun's Ed Zander?

In its search for a CEO, the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has narrowed its search to four individuals. And Sun Microsystems' president Ed Zander is on the list.

Besides Zander, the others on the list are:

  • Samuel Palmisano, IBM PC division head executive
  • David Dorfman, an executive VP at SBC Communications
  • Joe Costello, president and CEO of Cadence Design Systems

Representatives for those on the list had no comment.

Micro Take: The Apple tree to follow two branches

Apple Computer has solidified on two marketing paths for its hardware: One is for new high-end Macs, and the other is for a network computer product.

Apple expects to start shipping new PowerPC 750 Macintoshes by January 1998. The unit microprocessor, code-named "Arthur," was developed by IBM and Motorola.

Then, sometime in the first two quarters of '98, Apple plans to launch its Mac NC. The Mac NC is a stripped-down Macintosh that will run existing programs, but run off a network server using the upcoming Rhapsody operating system. Apple expects the NC to cost between 00 and ,000.

Microsoft twines ActiveX into Windows DNA

If you're missing the Active Platform section on the Microsoft Web site, well, it's gone. The message in its place invites the browser to visit the Windows DNA site.

That's because DNA -- Microsoft's Distributed Network Architecture -- has become the company's new scheme to develop distributed applications. And perhaps a new framework to attack Java.

One view of the change comes from J. P. Morgenthal, a Web technology analyst at NC.Focus. "It seems like Microsoft has truly entered the age of biological software, in which things grow and evolve," said Morgenthal. "This is just Microsoft's way of identifying that the technology has entered a new stage of life. And all developers can appreciate that, with each iteration, code and technology becomes cleaner and stronger. Therefore, DNA could very well be to distributed computing what Windows was to desktop computing."

David Fisco, a consultant and editor at Distributed Object Computing magazine, has another view: "It appears at this time that DNA is really not new technology but a marketing umbrella for existing Microsoft strategies -- DHTML, scripting on client and server, and COM," said Fisco. "How long will DNA be around? Will it meet the fate of ActiveX? It seems like they [Microsoft] threw this one together a little too quickly. In fact, a Microsoft whitepaper entitled 'Web-DNA Technologies.doc,' downloadable from their Web site, contained what appear to be Microsoft's internal production notes, including 'Add =AE to Win 32 below' and 'Change above to Java-based, we shouldn't combine Microsoft and Sun trademarks in this way.' "

Of course, the DNA site doesn't support Navigator 3.x or 4.x. The page is virtually empty. Fisco thinks this is representative of Microsoft's Internet strategy: "When it comes to the Internet, Microsoft seems to just keep drawing a blank."

Sun hooks small-device RTOS makers with PersonalJava

Sun Microsystems has finalized PersonalJava (P-Java) and plans to offer the option to integrate Java, P-Java, and E-Java (EmbeddedJava) into the small-device, realtime operating systems (RTOS) developed by a number of companies. The Java sets allow the RTOS to connect to almost any network.

Sun describes P-Java as a subset of Java, designed for specific-need small devices with sophisticated displays. Other Java subsets include the JavaCard spec (for smart cards) and E-Java (for devices with character or no displays). As a subset, Sun emphasizes that the JDK can be used to create applications for each set.

The RTOS companies create the operating software for small NC devices such as pagers, Web and cellular phones, and set-top boxes. Each vendor gets a license to resell P-Java and E-Java binary code with their platforms to the customers who manufacture the hardware side of the devices. Sun's small-device RTOS partners are responsible for more than half of the commercial RTOS market, said Sun's Tim Byers at a recent teleconference. The partners include:

  • Chorus Systems (now owned by Sun)
  • Lucent
  • Microware
  • GeoWorks
  • Microtec
  • QNX
  • Psion Software
  • Acorn
  • WindRiver Systems

A style guide for building P-Java applications and the final spec should be available soon on Sun's site.

Microware has already struck deals to integrate its P-Java enhanced RTOS in network PCs, cellular phones, and set-top boxes.

Affinity's Visara NC adds features

Affinity Systems has made several enhancements to its Visara NC, including adding the Motorola 821 PowerPC microprocessor, CIFS and DHCP capability, more TN5250 and TN3270 features, and PCMCIA local booting capability. The Visara NC uses Neoware's (formerly HDS) netOS operating system.

By using Motorola's 821 PowerPC chip, the physical size of the Visara NC has been to reduced to resemble a video cassette box.

Adding CIFS (Common Internet File System) abilities means that the machine can boot from any Windows 95 or NT workstation. CIFS defines a remote file-access protocol that is compatible with how applications share data on Windows- and SMB-based network file servers. CIFS is Internet-friendly and runs on top of TCP/IP.

The new DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) capability lets a DHCP server automatically lease the Visara user a unique IP address when the user powers up the NC.

The Visara NC can now easily remap the keyboard, making it simpler for the Visara to emulate TN5250 and TN3270 terminals.

And if you are a remote user, you can boot the Visara NC locally by sliding a Flash Card into the PCMCIA slot.

Listen to the sounds of the Harmonia Java RDBMS

JB Development has introduced Harmonia, a Java relational database management system (JRDBMS) that installs quickly and needs no server administration. As a Java-based database, Harmonia escapes the problems of network bandwidth, latency, and continuity. Applications with local database storage, built in Harmonia, can run in virtually any Java environment.

Harmonia comes in two versions, Harmonia-Pro and Harmonia-Lite. Harmonia-Pro is a Java-based, full-featured SQL database that contains no native code. The product uses a transaction-processing model and automatic data recovery to ascertain data integrity. The database, which can be deployed with less than 800 kilobytes of memory, is optimized for small footprint applications. And Java developers can easily extend Harmonia-Pro, adding custom datatypes, functions, stored procedures, and triggers.

Harmonia-Lite is for users who do not need to add any custom features (or extend the database in any way). It is, of course, compatible with the Pro version so the user can trade up without data loss or recoding.

Both versions are available for purchase from JB Development. A trial version of Harmonia-Lite is offered on-site. The company plans to introduce a multi-user version, Harmonia-Server, by the end of 1997.

Conference for Java Development valuable, but poorly organized -- and no T-shirts!

The 2nd Annual SIGS Conference for Java Development held in Chicago in mid-September provided the Java developer community with another valuable training experience, but the unusually rigid organizational decisions left some attendees wondering whether or not to make a return visit next year. The four-day conference, complete with dozens of Microsoft jokes, offered the standard line-up of keynotes, tutorials, technical sessions, workshops, product-education sessions, developer days, and management briefings. The only thing missing was the obligatory conference T-shirt.

In his keynote, Miko Matsumura, Java Evangelist from JavaSoft, entertained the audience with previews of several Java technologies, including Java applications running on smart cards; the Java Foundation Classes, which make possible the development of great-looking and consistent user interfaces; and HotSpot, a dynamic optimizing engine that hopes to make dramatic improvements to the speed of Java programs.

Attendees reported that, for the most part, the technical sessions -- which covered such topics as JavaBeans, Java and COM, enterprise development, JDBC, and Design Patterns -- were lively, interesting, and insightful. It seems that the only drawback was in SIGS' organizational decisions. Attendees did not receive session handouts in advance, and some found it difficult to attend a session for which they weren't registered. In addition, registrants did not receive handouts from sessions if they were unable to attend.

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