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

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  • Data Capture Layer -- a front-end layer that provides data capture, creation, deletion, and modification of assets. It also presents data as a result of full-text searches.

  • Business Rules Layer -- translates the raw data from the Data Capture Layer and converts it to a business context using rules written by systems developers to either create a completely new application working independently of other applications or embed a media asset repository within another application.

  • Storage Layer -- serves data from and puts data into permanent storage while maintaining integrity, controlling concurrent access, upholding security, and supporting other data-management functions.

Warp 10 offers a VAR program for TDT that includes sliding scale discounts, lead generation, online/telephone support, beta program participation and support, and marketing development funds.

TDT 1.0 is available now for 5,000 (five-administrator license).

GJ 0.6i supports generic types

GJ 0.6i is an extension of Java that supports generic types, such as collection classes in reusable libraries, by letting the coder write the GJ type Vector< String > as opposed to the Java type Vector, so the compiler catches more errors.

GJ 0.6i is a superset of Java, so every Java source program still retains its legal status and the same meaning in GJ. The GJ compiler can be used as a Java compiler; GJ compiles into JVM code, allowing GJ-generated programs to run on any Java-compliant system.

GJ class files mix with other Java classes, letting applications call any Java library function from GJ and vice-versa.

GJ is translated by erasure, so no information about type parameters is maintained at runtime.

GJ is freely available.

Sun plans to unveil Jini on January 25

At the recent Java Business Expo, Sun CEO and president Scott McNealy said Sun will formally announce the Java-based Jini distributed computing technology on January 25, 1999.

Jini won't just focus on business markets, noted McNealy, it will also target consumer markets, since Jini-based networks can use a home's electrical wiring (through network adapters attached to consumer devices) to deliver instructions to devices. This applies to the industrial sector -- manufacturers can use the same method to control shop-floor equipment.

Jini should make it easier for developers to build distributed systems: through Jini, any device connected to a network is represented by a software object.

Sun promised to provide a list of manufacturers that will be embedding Jini capabilities into their consumer devices.

More on the commercial aspects of Java 2 licensing

Sun's new commercial focus with the Java 2 licensing model -- give more of Java away to more people, but make them pay for it when they build a commercial product with it -- will deliver more money to Sun from Java. At least that's what Sun executives believe.

The new licensing model is complex. Under it, by just clicking on the license's "agreement" button, users can download Java 2 (formerly JDK 1.2) for free, make changes to the code, and not have to share those changes with Sun. They can even license to others what they've done with the code, as long as those folks become licensees.

But it's not quite open source. Before a product built with Java 2 ships in its final, binary form, Sun gets to approve whether it meets Java standards. After that, Sun can collect a per-unit fee.

Sun's Java Software president Alan Baratz noted, "We have put an enormous amount of thought into the licensing model. We wanted it to be the most open we could while preserving compatibility. To go further would risk fragmentation." He added, "We will make more money on the royalties, far higher than under the previous model."

Baratz also noted that the royalty-calculation determinations will continue to consist of a complex mix of factors. And that, for now, collection will be on the honor system -- no timebombs or expiration code. He said, "In the future we may have to set up accounting measures, but we don't see the need at this time to do that."

IBM has asked Sun to hand over at least part of the mature aspects of Java to the International Standards Organization, and Sun officials agreed that it would begin this process in February 1999. Sun was nebulous on how much of the Java code would be turned over to ISO, however.

As to whether this licensing model will cause the approximate 900,000 Java developers to start fragmenting Java remains to be seen.

IBM Sueltz trumpets Java's arrival

IBM Java and OS/2 GM Patricia Sueltz made a keynote address at the recent Java Business Expo, claiming that Java has gone "mission-critical."

Other IBM officials noted, though, that despite Java's robustness, it will be well into 1999 before IBM will integrate Java 2 into shipping products.

"A host of companies are working closely with Sun to make [Java] more stable and overcome early drawbacks," Sueltz said, pointing out the 10K compatibility tests that now come with the JDK, and the fact that more than 40 percent of large U.S. corporations use Java applications.

Sueltz sees the new Community Source License model for Java 2 as a way to speed up Java development.

Sueltz and senior IBM engineer Andrew Donoho demonstrated a prototype of a new graphics interpreter technology developed with Adobe that uses Java and XML to let browsers resize Web-page graphics without sacrificing detail or clarity. She claimed the software was written in a short eight weeks by six programmers (three from Adobe, three from IBM) using IBM's XML Parser for Java.

Inprise Application Server integrates with Java

Inprise says its Inprise Application Server will offer integration between Inprise's JBuilder and the CORBA-based VisiBroker Integrated Transaction Service, so users will have an end-to-end system capable of developing, deploying, and managing distributed applications.

The system, which comes with AppCenter (an applications-management tool), will offer mid-tier business logic, and standards-based database and legacy connections to support several types of clients. The server also will link programming language, client interfaces, and the DCE and COM object frameworks.

The server will ship with the JBuilder tools at first, with support for Borland Delphi and C++Builder showing up in 1999.

It is available now for Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, and Windows NT. Check with the company for pricing configurations.

Farber's definition of operating system

In the testimony by government computer expert David Farber, Microsoft attorneys introduced several textbook definitions of operating systems in an attempt to discredit Farber's definition of the term.

Of course, as evidenced by other internal Microsoft documents and e-mails, the company didn't expect to have its own definition held against it.

Microsoft's 1997 Computer Dictionary defines Internet Explorer as a Web browser and as an application. The dictionary's definition of an operating system doesn't include one reference to the Web-browsing functions that Microsoft claims Windows 98 incorporates.

When Farber was asked whether he agreed with Microsoft's published definition of an operating system, he replied, "It's the one used by the majority of textbooks."

Did Farber propose a remedy?

In his testimony on defining an operating system, witness David Farber concluded that it was "perfectly feasible" for Microsoft to make Windows 98 more modular, allowing users to choose which functions they wish to use.

Department of Justice lawyer Denise De Mory asked Farber whether he thought consumers would "lose anything" by separating operating system functions from other functions in Windows 98. Farber replied to the contrary: "I believe we would gain in competition in the marketplace."

Farber also added in his Wednesday, December 10 testimony that he thought the way to remedy the situation would be to require Microsoft to make its software code more modular.

Sun to ask MS to rejoin the Java effort

Sun's Java Software president Alan Baratz said he will make an effort to get Microsoft back into the Java community now that Sun has shipped Java 2.

Microsoft's response came from Microsoft group product manager Charles Fitzgerald in a written statement: "Sun's obligation under the agreement is to deliver JDK 1.2 to Microsoft. To date they have refused to deliver and are in breach of the contract. If and when they deliver a JDK 1.2 that fulfills all of their contractual obligations, we will evaluate it. This is just another example of how Java is a double standard, not an open standard."

What Fitzgerald didn't mention is that the above-mentioned contract is the centerpiece of an active lawsuit, which sort of puts it (as well as delivering new technology to an entity that is allegedly violating the terms of the contract that covers such delivery) out of reach. In fact, Sun suspended Microsoft's Java license as part of the dispute.

Sun's new Community Source License, though, means that if it agrees to the license, Microsoft can download the source code to Java 2 and alter it at will. (Before Microsoft attorneys pipe up, this new license model doesn't make earlier alleged violations moot.) The catch: Microsoft would have to subject its Java code to Sun's compatibility tests before it ships it with commercial products or shares it with other licensees. (For more on the license, see "More on the commercial aspects of Java 2 licensing" in this section.)

Baratz said Java 2 gives developers a "complete windowing, rendering, and font system that does not rely on the underlying operating system." In other words, Java GUIs don't need to call native code. He added that Sun had let Microsoft have more leeway to modify Java than it did with other licensees: "You will not see any references in Microsoft's Java license to shared code. In the previous version of the Java platform, 80 percent was shared code that licensees could not modify, plus they had to give modifications on the other 20 percent back to Sun. Now we can be more flexible because our compatibility tests are so much better. Our goal is to get to zero shared code."

At the recent Java Internet Business Expo in New York, Microsoft evangelist Brad Merrill polled developers on what Microsoft should do with Java.

Sun trying to get HP back to Java

As it is with Microsoft, Sun is concerned about getting Hewlett-Packard to rejoin the Java effort.

HP has licensed its embedded Java clone to Microsoft and other operating system vendors.

Sun's Java Software president Alan Baratz claims Sun responded to HP's original objections by allowing the company to build a Java clone.

Judge queries: Illegal tactics or a better product?

On Thursday, December 10, Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson asked James Gosling, "Didn't what Microsoft do was grasp the significance of the work you were doing and then run with it and produce a better version of it? They simply couldn't wait for you to catch up?"

If Jackson's question indicated a leaning (he is also the jury in this case), then it means he could accept Microsoft's defense that its implementation of Java was made purely for competition and not as a means to illegally impede Sun's Java effort. It would weaken the government's case.

DOJ lead attorney David Boies said later that the judge's question might have meant agreement with Microsoft's Java defense. He said, "I think that the judge's question reflects the fact that he was impressed with a number of points that Microsoft made on cross-examination -- in terms of the fact that what Microsoft was trying to do was to, in effect, build a better Java." But Boies added that the government (or Sun) wasn't arguing whether or not Microsoft should be allowed to build a better mousetrap; he said, "The issue in this case is whether Microsoft can use its monopoly power to advance its products."

Microsoft lead attorney John Warden said, "Microsoft competed hard with Java and got ahead of Sun. Sun is understandably unhappy about that situation."

Gosling testifies, part three

On Thursday, December 10, Java creator James Gosling testified that Java development was a community effort that Microsoft violated.

Gosling said, "Often when Microsoft was holding out their hand, there was a knife in it and they were expecting us to grab the blade."

Microsoft attorney Tom Burt attempted to paint Sun as a company that chose to work with its competitors over Microsoft, and that Sun had made its own unilateral changes to Java.

Burt cited a Sun internal e-mail after an April 1996 meeting with Microsoft in which a Sun executive expressed concern over Microsoft's use of the term "language extensions." Burt asked Gosling whether anyone from Sun corresponded with Microsoft about their worries. Gosling replied in the negative, adding that Sun didn't think that the situation "was going to lead to something that would require us to send a nasty-gram from a lawyer."

Sun claims new Microsoft VM has arithmetic bug

Sun claims that after internal testing of Microsoft's recently released JVM with the Spec Java Benchmark, it has discovered a bug in the way the JVM handles arithmetic functions. A Sun spokesperson noted that Sun had not alerted Microsoft about the bug.

A Microsoft spokesperson said its Java team hadn't uncovered any problems in the JVM; she also confirmed the Sun had not contacted that company about the bug.

There has been no independent verification of this bug at press time.

Correction: HotSpot compiler beta available

From an earlier brief, we reported:

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