News and New Product Briefs (12/18/98)

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Holley feinted and Farber parried the attacks on his viewpoint that an operating system should be limited to relatively low-level services. Farber's written testimony had stated that there are no technical barriers that prevented Microsoft from selling its browser as a standalone product.

Holley attempted to paint Farber's view of operating systems as extreme by reading OS definitions in academic textbooks, to which Farber replied, "Realize that almost anybody can write a book. I even wrote a book." He added that in the academic arena, the only common agreement is that there is no common agreement.

And to Holley's contention that corporate, real-world operating system definitions are far broader than his, Farber noted that "marketing terms are the bane of the field," and that if an operating system includes everything that's included in the box in which it's sold, then solitaire is part of several OSs.

Uniscape Java code scanner keeps code international

Uniscape announced Global Checker for Java 1.0 (GCJ), a Java code-scanning software that automates the multibyte enabling process.

GCJ scans C, C++, and Java type source files and identifies non-standard National Language Support (NLS) code. The software, through its help system, then proceeds to offer solutions to make the code compliant.

GCJ can also be used to ascertain that modified code remains NLS-compliant.

Features include:

  • scans for non-internationalized methods and constructors
  • an easy-to-use GUI for code review and modification
  • a facility to read existing ResourceBundle files and add new messages
  • an easy method to move hard-coded messages to ResourceBundle files
  • an online help system just full of i18n solutions
  • user-definable restraints and batch modes
  • Unicode support

The GCJ toolset includes Global Checker for Java 1.0 and Global Checker for C/C++ 1.1.4. It costs ,500. The C/C++ version runs on Windows 95/NT.

IBM offers BigDecimal Java class

IBM's alphaWorks announced BigDecimal, a Java class that lets systems generate commonly recognized decimal points, including the floating decimal point.

BigDecimal has been proposed as a replacement for the java.math.BigDecimal class. It extends the existing class with ANSI X3.274 floating-point arithmetic, and it implements immutable arbitrary-precision decimal numbers with optional exponential notation. Besides operations for fixed and floating-point arithmetic, it includes methods for comparison, format conversions, and hashing.

ABA delivers Java Cryptography Extension

Australian Business Access Pty. Ltd. (ABA) announced its own Java Cryptography Extension (JCE) that consists of a clean-room implementation of the Sun-defined JCE API and other cryptographic algorithms from an ABA provider.

This JCE is based on the early-access beta version 2.0 of the Sun JCE (which is written for JDK 1.2). It has three versions of the library, compatible with JDK 1.02, JDK 1.1, and JDK 1.2. The libraries contain the complete source code. Other cryptography libraries can be plugged into the architecture.

The JCE 1.2 framework supports encryption, key exchange, Message Authentication Code (MAC) algorithms, secure streams, and sealed objects.

ABA provider algorithms have been compared and checked against other implementations (including hardware when possible) to ascertain that they are standards-compliant. The provider supports the following algorithms (key generators and weak-key checks provided):

  • DES
  • DESede (or "triple DES")
  • RC4(r)
  • Blowfish
  • Twofish
  • RSA

The provider supports the following message digest algorithms: SHA-0, SHA-1, and MD5.

docSpace debuts developer network with servlets

docSpace debuted its new Web site and Developer Network, showcasing Java servlets as the power behind the docSpace open Enterprise backbone technology.

The Developer Network site offers general resource for enterprise Web developers. Members will have access to the docSpace Enterprise API, documentation, discussion groups, and support.

docSpace president and CEO Evan Chrapko said, "Our Developer Network compresses a developer's learning curve and demonstrates our market-leading command of server-side Java technology. Any qualifying docSpace Service Bureau or licensing corporation can fully customize its docSpace file services."

At press time, the developer network was not open; if you're interested, keep looking on the company's site.

For info:

Cringely shows how MS will win

In Robert X. Cringely's column from The Pulpit, entitled "Check and Mate? How Microsoft Just Might Beat the DOJ After All," Cringely details a little secret that could help Microsoft win out over the Justice Department (and Sun), despite the rulings handed down in the respective trials.

He notes that "It hasn't looked good lately for Microsoft. The e-mail trail has been damning and the government's star witness -- Bill Gates -- has looked particularly dopey on videotape." He characterizes the Microsoft legal strategy as a "mixture of legal foot-dragging, libertarian claims that the world no longer requires antitrust legislation, and a Hail Mary defense that sounds to me like, 'The dog ate my homework'." So what made Cringely change his mind on the trials' outcomes?

He expects a licensing agreement between Microsoft (the one with all the money) and a tiny Chicago-based company called the Eolas Development Corp. Eolas, led by Michael Doyle (who, along with UC's David Martin and Cheong Ang), was awarded U.S. patent number 5,838,906 on November 17 -- a patent for an invention described as "a distributed hypermedia method for automatically invoking external application providing interaction and display of embedded objects within a hypermedia document."

According to Cringely, the patent covers the use of embedded program objects, or applets, within Web documents, as well as the use of any algorithm that implements dynamic, bi-directional communications between Web browsers and external applications. He notes that "Every Web browser you can name currently supports embedded applets, and is therefore in violation of the Eolas patent."

Cringely also adds that the patent covers the concept of executable content, or in his words, the "very foundation of Java."

Cringely's conclusions: "It looks like Eolas is in a position to put Java out of business." And Microsoft has the dollars (and hopefully by now, the sense) to buy an exclusive relationship with Eolas while keeping it at arm's length (to prevent the dreaded "monopoly" from being mentioned again).

He expects a "sweetheart licensing deal" to be the next big high-tech story.

Goetz Graphics Kit for creating animated displays

Lawrence Goetz announced the Java-based Goetz Graphics Kit (GGK), designed to create animated graphical scenes for the Web.

The 11KB GGK, a shareware Java applet, lets those with little programming experience build animated Web-based displays. It uses a simple script file to carry out display commands. Each display scene can be separately hyperlinked to a document.

GGK users can use JPG or GIF images; create images as polygons, lines, arcs, rectangles; and use text. The applet can even pause when the visitor moves the mouse over the applet, and it can display info in the status bar about the item.

The animation's file size is smaller than animated GIFs.

Tidestone offers Formula One Professional spreadsheet

Tidestone Technologies announced Formula One Professional (F1P), its Java and ActiveX product for delivering spreadsheets.

F1P lets developers and users implement Excel-compatible spreadsheet functionality on servers and desktops, in applications, or across the Web. It includes:

  • Formula One for Java 5.5 -- a Java-based, Excel-compatible spreadsheet app that can be used as a JavaBean or applet for use in Java applications, Web pages, or as a standalone, platform-independent application.

  • Formula One ActiveX 6.0 -- which can read and write Excel 97 files -- to build spreadsheets into Windows apps.

  • First Impression ActiveX 6.0 -- a 2D/3D ActiveX business charting component for implementing multidimensional charting in Windows apps.

Tidestone has special partnership programs for ISVs, VARs, corporate developers, and users.

A Formula One Professional single-user license costs 9; a ten-user license is 90.

ErgoTech offers new virtual instrument JavaBeans

ErgoTech Systems announced its Professional Edition Virtual Instrumentation Beans 2.0 (VIB), a set of JavaBean components for building Java GUIs for realtime data access and display.

This release (certified 100% Pure) includes support for RMI networks and optional support for CORBA servers. And, the single developer version has been enhanced for this release.

VIB 2.0 is used to develop GUIs for industrial, laboratory, and building monitoring, control, and automation. The VIB-generated interfaces can be distributed over a network (and Internet) and viewed remotely. Its collection lets developers build:

  • meters
  • strip charts
  • annunciators
  • active input devices (buttons, knobs, sliders)
  • bar charts
  • seven-segment displays

It also comes with building-automation components such as luminaries, switches, smoke alarms, and motion detectors.

VIB 2.0 components follow the JavaBean model with easy-to-build user interfaces that integrate with other Java components, use JNI to link with other languages, and support such open standards as CORBA.

The single-developer license costs 99; the professional development license (with unlimited runtime distribution, an RMI server and alarm handling and 90-day support) costs ,299. Runtime fees for either package don't apply.

RealSelect teams with Jutvision to offer virtual home tours

RealSelect, the company that runs the REALTOR.COM 1.3 million-listing real estate site, announced it will team with Jutvision Corp. to build virtual home tours.

The key is Jutvision's Java viewing technology. It allows users to build 360-degree, interactive property tours that don't require any software for the viewers.

RealSelect plans to offer the service on REALTOR.COM in the first quarter of '99.

Java 2 (JDK 1.2) debuts at Business Expo

Sun Microsystems' COO Ed Zander debuted Java 2 (what was formerly known as JDK 1.2) at the recent Java Business Expo in NYC, along with initiatives designed to broaden participation in Java's development process.

Zander called Java 2 a "complete rewrite of the Java platform," which will include faster runtimes, better garbage collection, new class libraries, enhanced localization, and an improved security model. Zander's focus, though, was on Java's readiness for industrial-strength application development and deployment. In his words, "We pounded the heck out of this thing in terms of stability."

Other announcements from Zander:

  • The ability for commercial Java licensees to use and modify source code without intervention from Sun.

  • Opening the API development process to industry experts, standards bodies, and researchers.

  • Some business partners will head groups designed to tune Java for specific uses.

At the expo, companies announced their support for Java 2:

  • Novell offered a free application developer kit that can be used to develop services for NetWare, Novell Directory Services, GroupWise, and ManageWise.

  • Hewlett-Packard will integrate Java 2 in HP-UX 10.20 and HP-UX 11 by the middle of 1999. HP will also build JIT compiler add-ons for Java 2.

  • Computer Associates International will support Java 2 in Unicenter TNG and Jasmine.

  • Data General will support Java 2 in its AViiOn servers running the DGUX.

  • TakeFive Software's SNiFF+ tools will support Java 2.

  • Bull Smart Cards will support Java 2.

Microsoft claims its JVM is the best

Microsoft announced a pure Java upgrade to its 32-bit Java virtual machine (JVM) for Windows that it claims works better than Sun's Java 2.

The new MS JVM supports the Java Native Interface (as the court ordered in a preliminary injunction ruling in the Sun/Microsoft lawsuit). Microsoft claims this JVM, which conforms to the court order, runs an average of 30 percent faster than Java 2 on a 32-bit Windows system.

Microsoft marketing manager Charles Fitzgerald said, "While the Microsoft virtual machine is getting faster, Sun's virtual machine is getting slower on some key metrics." Fitzgerald added that Java 2 is now 20MB, while its JVM is 8MB. Another Microsoft spokesperson, Joe Herman, said, "JDK 1.2 matches the performance we had a year ago. And the main focus of this release is performance."

Java 2 includes:

  • a new JIT compiler
  • developer enhancements to speed the development cycle
  • developer enhancements to simplify integration of Java code
  • support for cross-platform applets and Windows-based applications written in Java
  • enhancements that improve execution of server-side Java components using Active Server Pages and Microsoft Transaction Server technology

Whether all the enhancements in Java 2 are supported in this version are at present undetermined. Because of the lawsuit, Microsoft hasn't been provided the Java 2 source code.

Developer version:

Updated JVM for Internet Explorer 4 Win32 versions:

Informix to combine JVM and SQL

Informix announced it will integrate a Java virtual machine with SQLJ, the Java version of SQL, into its Dynamic Server database.

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