SunSoft and ILOG partner to create TwinPeaks

Java/C++ gateway to offer business application components to developers

ILOG (Mountain View, CA) has announced a strategic alliance with SunSoft to deliver a Java/C++ gateway for mainstream business application development. The project, called TwinPeaks, will form a bridge between the two most significant software development environments of recent years. The TwinPeaks bridge, expected late this year, will strengthen Java's position as an enterprise technology and expand the reach of C++ into the Internet/intranet arena, according to the two companies.

"Currently the Java language holds great promise for being the next-generation platform for Internet- and intranet-based applications," said Harley Davis, director of technology at ILOG. "What is lacking to make this promise come true is a set of robust software components for Java application developers. TwinPeaks will allow Java developers to use the plethora of existing stable, tested, and efficient C and C++ software components that are now widely available."

The TwinPeaks bridge is a gateway program that allows C++ components to be recognized and used by Java through an automatically-generated interface. A C++ component has two elements: an interface or header file and the object code. The TwinPeaks bridge will read and analyze the header file and produce both a Java interface file and a thin layer of Java/C++ bridge code, which translates API calls and data formats between Java and the object code of the existing component. Through this translation, Java will be able to recognize and use existing C++ components.

Ilog and SunSoft will jointly develop TwinPeaks. SunSoft will own the resulting technology, which will be incorporated into SunSoft's Java WorkShop and other Java development packages.

"Our alliance with ILOG will give Java developers access to the same advanced, robust components that C++ developers already use to build enterprise-critical applications," said Larry Weber, vice president and general manager of SunSoft's developer products division. "We chose ILOG for its extensive expertise both in the integration of C++ with dynamic languages and in the commercial use of software components to build enterprise-critical applications." (ILOG indicates it has recently created similar gateway products.)

TwinPeaks will support both standard C++ and ANSI C. According to ILOG (http://www.ilog.com) and SunSoft (http://www.sun.com/sunsoft/), TwinPeaks promises long-term productivity gains for developers currently using C++ application components, because it assures that their current investments in these components can easily be leveraged in Internet-enabled applications through Java in the future.

"For companies hesitating on whether or not to move to Java, TwinPeaks will provide the assurance that their investment today in C++ components will not be wasted when they decide to take the plunge: The same components, with their familiar APIs, will be available in Java," said Davis. "For C++ component producers, TwinPeaks provides a stable migration path to a world where development will take place in both C++ and Java. The compiled component code can be maintained in an efficient systems-level language, C++, while still providing application developers with access to the components from a high-level, simpler application development language, Java."

"Several companies, including Borland and Symantec, have announced environments that allow developers to write either C++ or Java programs within the same graphical framework," said Davis. "However, none of the announcements have yet addressed the question of integrating Java and C++ code into the same application, as TwinPeaks will do. Indeed, in the other environments, programmers can either write C++ programs or Java programs, but never the twain shall meet."

When asked about the rather unusual name of the new product, Davis responded: "Humbly, I take credit myself for the name TwinPeaks. We believe that Java and C++ represent two great languages, and we would like to bring these two summits of language design together. Since all Java products require a mandatory coffee metaphor, and all the obvious ones are taken already, we had to go for something more subtle. In this case, the joke is the famous tag line from the TV show, 'That's a damn fine cup of coffee.'"

Kieron Murphy is a freelance technology writer in New York City. Recently, as a managing editor at SIGS Publications, he helped to launch Java Report and managed The C++ Report and The X Journal. In the past, he has worked for the IEEE, Ziff-Davis, John Wiley & Sons, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
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