On Monday, October 27, Sun Microsystems Inc. announced the availability of Java Studio, a dynamic Java authoring tool that was developed specifically for non-programmers -- actually, for anyone who doesn't want to do a bit of scripting or HTML tagging. Java Studio allows users with no coding experience whatsoever to create and test applets and applications. Sun officials say they took great pains to provide users with a tool that obviates the need for programming, giving Java Studio an intuitive, straightforward user interface and component-based architecture.
The beauty of beans
So how can non-programmers develop Java applications with no coding experience? With Java Studio, with a click of the mouse, you wire together preexisting components in the form of JavaBeans. In a conversation with JavaWorld, Joe Keller, director of Marketing and Support for Sun's Authoring and Development Tools, said the component-based nature of Java Studio lets "you treat interactive content like clip art." Java Studio currently boasts more than 50 JavaBeans components and includes beans that allow you to add diverse and high-level functions such as database connectivity (for live spreadsheets and documents that update automatically), charting and graphing, and multimedia (sound and animation). E-mail and calendaring capabilities also are a part of Java Studio.
The beans supplied with Java Studio were developed by various third-party vendors. The base set of beans includes those from KL Group, Ludens, Object Design Inc., and THOUGHT Inc. Additional beans are being developed by Argent Software, Athena Design, Halcyon Software, Object/FX Corp., and Stingray Software.
High-level functionality through beans: An example
Keller pointed to another example of a powerful bean in Java Studio from a Mexican company called Ludens, S.A. de C.V. Ludens originally built a drawing tool for programmers that would allow them to do custom animation, said Keller. The company then created "Montage," a version of the animation tool for non-programmers. One step further, it turned Montage into a JavaBean ("MontageLite"), which, as part of Java Studio, gives users access to a full, 2D drawing package through tools, colors, and fonts. With the Montage bean, maps and diagrams can be used as a front-end to Java applications or databases.
So, while Java Studio was designed with non-programmers in mind, experienced users will find the possibilities for creating advanced applications appealing, said Sun officials.
Asked if Java Studio users would have access to new beans as they become available, Keller described the scenario: Users will go to the "Java Component Depot" on Sun's Web site and automatically "lift" new beans provided by independent software vendors. These beans have been optimized for use with Java Studio and Java Workshop. (See Resources for the link to the Java Component Depot.)
With the ability to add new beans to Java Studio, the functionality and interoperability of applications is increased. And Java Studio will help fuel the growth of the Beans market.
Also, other 100% Pure Java components from third-party vendors can be imported into Java Studio or they can be developed internally using a Beans-compliant integrated development environment (IDE).
It's a non-programmer's world out there
Java Studio provides a complete visual environment for both the workspace and components, and it obliterates the need for users to know even basic programming concepts (event modeling and compiling, for example). With corporations increasingly moving their business applications and internal projects to the Internet and/or intranets, teams of Web developers have formed to meet these needs. According to Sun's Keller, the number of non-programmers to programmers on Web development teams is approximately 10 to 1. (Keller says Sun is conservative with its figures; he cites ratios as high as 50 to 1.) Java Studio provides a solid tool for Webmasters, content creators, and graphic artists to use in creating their Web-based applications.
The dollar details
Available now, Java Studio can be purchased for 9 through Sun's Software Shop (see Resources). By the end of the year, you'll also be able to purchase Java Studio at retail software stores throughout the country. And Netscape will be offering Java Studio at its Software Depot site (see Resources).
Java Studio/Java Workshop bundle
Through February 28, 1998, Java Studio and Java WorkShop also come bundled together for 89 (a savings of 5 over buying the two products separately). The bundled tools can be bought electronically at Sun's Software Shop or Netscape's Software Depot.
Supported on Sun Solaris, and Windows 95 and NT, Java Studio also will be available by CD-ROM in the next few weeks, according to Sun officials.
Learn more about this topic
- For complete information on Sun's Java Studio, see http://www.sun.com/studio
- Sun Software Shop is located at http://www.sun.com/shop/
- Netscape Software Depot makes software tools available at http://software-depot.netscape.com
- As new JavaBeans become available, users of Java Studio can access them at the Java Component Depot http://components.sun.com