News and New Product Briefs (2/20/99)

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Microsoft to court: 'Can we build our own Java instead?'

On Friday, February 5, Microsoft requested that the US District Court rule on whether it can distribute independently developed technology that "performs the same or similar functions" as Sun's Java, but can be exempted from Sun's compatibility tests. Microsoft is requesting this as a "clarification" of Judge Ronald Whyte's November 17, 1998, preliminary injunction, in which Whyte ordered Microsoft to add Sun's Java Native Interface to products bearing the Java label. He also ordered the company to warn developers using Visual J++ to develop Java applets and applications that the results may be incompatible with other Java systems.

Although the request details are sealed, Microsoft attorneys said that the company wants to distribute an independently developed Java compiler. They also claim that Microsoft has the right to alter Java (as it did in Visual J++ 6.0), so it should be exempt from Sun's claims of copyright, patent, or intellectual property rights misuse.

Said Microsoft attorney Karl Quackenbush, "Microsoft wants to go forward to create new products and technologies and tools that are not restricted by a licensing agreement that keeps new innovations out of the market."

Sun attorney Rusty Day countered that Microsoft is seeking a loophole in the preliminary injunction. Day said, "Microsoft received a license to distribute products that contain copies and derivative works, and they received a license to distribute products that contain independent works, but the price that Microsoft paid was that any product is subject to Sun's upgrade requirements and compatibility requirements and branding requirements."

Judge Whyte urged both Microsoft and Sun to settle the case. The companies are preparing to start settlement talks on at least one of the charges -- how Java should interact with native code.

IBM, Philips co-develop secure smart cards

Philips Semiconductors and IBM Research announced an alliance to jointly develop 16-bit multifunction smart cards for secure uses, using Philips SmartXA smart-card processors running an IBM secure operating system and enhanced JavaCard virtual machine software.

Both companies note that this approach will allow multiple smart-card applications (from different vendors) to be written in different programming languages, then be loaded onto the same card. A drawback to this method is that one vendor could get access to another's data. The SmartXA hardware-based security eliminates that threat -- security is maintained even when data is being transferred onto or off of the card. The SmartXA uses separate user and system modes with hardware-level memory management and security.

SmartXA provides a hardware firewall, a 16-bit CISC processor, and an advanced memory configuration. It runs software interpreters like Java "quickly and efficiently," according to the company.

The operating system optimizes the link between hardware and JavaCard virtual machine or application software. IBM Research will define and publish system interfaces and will implement the operating system and JavaCard virtual machine software.

ITSEC and Common Criteria is evaluating this approach to security.

Get to the data from anything with Oracle Lite 3.5

Oracle announced the beta version of Oracle Lite 3.5, a database that makes it easy for users to connect to corporate data remotely from notebooks and handheld devices.

As long as Oracle8i is running on at least one corporate server, any JVM-enabled device can download and manipulate a subset of an Oracle database. The data can be replicated through wired or wireless connections, using e-mail attachments or removable media.

The client side of Oracle Lite 3.5 includes a Java app that works along with two small components -- the 350KB database management system and a 50KB Web server. Administrators can decide which data gets downloaded to the remote devices, and can also set access privileges related to the data.

The Oracle Lite client costs 95 per user license. Oracle Lite 3.5 works with Windows 98/NT 4.0; Oracle is predicting a Palm platform and Windows CE version by the middle of 1999.

Recent comparison of four Java IDEs

In a recent Network Computing comparison of four Java development environments -- Symantec Visual Cafe 2.5, IBM VisualAge for Java 2.0 Enterprise Edition, Microsoft Visual J++ 6.0 Professional Edition, and InfinityEdge Systems JaWiz 1.0 -- author Ahmad Abualsamid and NC's Real-World Labs narrowed the test field to IDEs that include most of what is necessary to develop applications and applets, and support the latest JDK and JavaBeans, all for Win32 platforms.

They compared

  • database connectivity (20 percent weighting)
  • ease-of-use (15 percent)
  • project management (15 percent)
  • multiplatform support (10 percent)
  • native code generation (10 percent)
  • Java technology support (10 percent)
  • debugging support (10 percent)
  • price (10 percent)

The scores were as follows:

  • Visual Cafe 2.5, 3.93 (or B)
  • VisualAge for Java 2.0, 3.85 (B)
  • Visual J++ 6.0, 3.75 (B)
  • JaWiz 1.0, 2.38 (D)

The interactive scorecard, moreover, allows users to change the weighting percentages around to match individual needs.

The article also discusses pros and cons for each environment, then goes on to detail how the environments were tested.

Intentia ports AS/400-oriented Movex ERP software to Java

Intentia International announced that it has ported its Movex Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) package, which runs on the IBM AS/400, to Java.

Movex adds Java to its base proprietary AS/400 programming language, Report Program Generator. And at 20 million lines of code, Movex ERP for Java may be the largest Java application in existence. (If it's not, please let JavaWorld editors know at, and we'll mention it.)

One reason Intentia decided to implement a Java version of Movex is that Java runs just as fast as RPG on the AS/400 (OS/400 has a kernel-level JVM). According to Intentia CEO/President Ed Koepfler, the company has the benchmarks to prove it. Java is already Web-oriented, making remote access that much easier to implement. And with a plethora of Java enterprise-level IDEs available, new Java applets and applications can be quickly assembled to keep up with changing market conditions. Intentia officials said that 90 percent of the port job was done with automated tools.

Intentia also announced Movex Explorer WebTop, a Java applet client package that provides Java-enabled browser access into all of Movex's functions by using a combination of Java applets and Dynamic HTML.

Sock manufacturer Candor Hosiery Mills is an organization that has decided to migrate to Movex on Java, instead of trying to link its existing RPG-based software to a Web server. According to Candor IT director Dannie Pierce, "That's the only way we'll get the kind of seamless sharing of data we want." Pierce added that with the Java version, "Salesmen could take orders and input them right into Movex, as well as access applications we've got running on the NT Server."

Sun will offer XML implementation details in March

Sun officials said that the company will debut its eXtensible Markup Language (XML) implementation strategy at the XTech '99 show in March. Sun already has an implementation called Java Project X that provides core XML functionality to Java developers.

According to Java Software XML product manager Nancy Lee, Sun will next provide a standard Java API to support XML. Lee noted, "We had to let the dust settle and determine what makes sense for XML so we [would] have a clear path." The API will go through the Java Community Process.

The "Moscone" release of Enterprise JavaBeans, coming in Q299, will also include XML-based user interface features.

Patriot Scientific's Java processor licensed by Japanese electronics group

Patriot Scientific announced that Japan's Venture SystemLSI Assist Center (VSAC), part of Japan's Electronics Industry Association and funded by the Japanese government, has licensed the 32-bit PSC1000A Java microprocessor core for its library of semiconductor cores.

This agreement should allow small- to medium-sized Japanese electronics companies to design and build prototype ICs that use the PSC1000A core without having to pay the up-front license fees. VSAC will pay Patriot an undisclosed sum for the core license. VSAC-affiliated companies will pay Patriot license fees and per-chip royalties once volume production is reached.

Patriot will provide VSAC with hard and soft cores. Hard cores have hand-packed, optimized designs, making them efficient in both size and performance. Soft cores offer more flexibility in design and simulation.

PowerTier EJBs integrate into Learning Tree course materials

Persistence Software announced that Learning Tree International plans to incorporate PowerTier for Enterprise JavaBeans in its course materials for Java developer training.

Learning Tree will use the PowerTier application server as an integral part of the five-day course entitled, "Java for Enterprise Systems Development." The course focuses on the programming techniques needed for developers to build and deploy EJB-based systems. It includes sections on distributed, enterprise Java; JDBC software and building sophisticated database applications; RMI and building distributed client/server applications; and CORBA integration using Java IDL.

The course is currently scheduled for:

  • Washington, DC, March 1 to 5
  • New York, March 8 to 12
  • Los Angeles, March 22 to 26
  • Atlanta, March 29 to April 2
  • Chicago, April 19 to 23

Standard tuition is ,495.

jtest! 2.1 supports JDK 1.2

ParaSoft announced release 2.1 of jtest!, the company's automatic white-box testing tool for Java. Version 2.1 supports testing classes built with Java 2 (JDK 1.2).

jtest! tests code's internal structure at the class, or module, level, ensuring that every method has been well constructed. It can uncover runtime exceptions, even if they're in non-GUI code. Moreover, it lets the user decide whether to automatically check every branch of each module.

jtest! 2.1 contains several additions based on user input. Those enhancements include a modified GUI, menu shortcuts, and menus with context-sensitive help.

jtest! uses the patented Test Generation System technology to test programs at the class level. jtest! automatically scans for such exceptions as NullPointerExceptions, StringIndexOutofBoundsExceptions, ArrayIndexingExceptions, NegativeArraySizeExceptions, ClassCastExceptions, NumberFormatExceptions, and user-defined exceptions extending from the RuntimeException object.

jtest! 2.1 is currently available for Windows 98/NT. Check with the company for pricing.

InstantObjects for rapid, e-commerce-site development

InstantObjects announced InstantObjects, its integrated Java platform designed for the rapid development, cost-effective deployment, and automated maintenance of complex e-commerce sites.

The InstantObjects e-Business Platform sports an easy-to-use GUI. With it, users can quickly build and implement complex Web sites and Web-based applications that can interact with users, manage dynamic data and business rules, and offer secure e-commerce functionality. The GUI even makes it possible for non-technical site administrators to update the site in real time.

InstantObjects is compatible with most existing Web technologies, including popular Web servers, HTML authoring packages, Web-site management applications, and Java-compliant database-management systems. InstantObjects includes an integrated suite of business-intelligence components and a scalable Web-application server.

InstantObjects includes:

  • The InstantModeler intuitive GUI for managing a site's dynamic elements. It controls how data is extracted, configured, and presented in the user interface.

  • The InstantCommerce GUI (embedded in the InstantModeler). It gives site operators the ability to specify billable items and events. (The platform can link into legacy billing systems or process credit card transactions through the CyberSource clearing system that comes bundled with InstantObjects.)

  • InstantDBA, which works with InstantModeler and the underlying relational database. InstantDBA manages the insertion of data into the database, the real-time indexing of the data stored in the database, and the rapid extraction of data into any number of objects created by the site administrator. It automates the addition, modification, and deletion procedures that are normally performed by the database administrator. It comes with a software bridge that quickly ties into the underlying JDBC-compliant relational database.

  • InstantExtractor, which formats structured or unstructured data from any legacy source, then moves the data into InstantDBA. For unstructured data, InstantExtractor can be combined with a specially tailored natural-language parsing engine.

  • InstantServer, a multi-threaded, Java Web application server. Data from the database is cached in the InstantServer, which provides version control, session management, and granular tracking of customer movements.

  • InstantSite, a library of sample user interfaces to help developers build real ones.

InstantObjects is available now for Unix, Windows NT, and Mac OS environments. Prices start at 5,000 per processor.

OMG crafts XML object storing/sharing specification

The Object Management Group (OMG) is building the XML Metadata Interchange (XMI), a specification that will deliver to application developers a standard for storing and sharing object programming and design data when using the eXtensible Markup Language.

The company hopes that the XMI will also allow developers with different tool and object-format experience to collaborate when building broadly distributed, object-based applications.

XMI will use the Web as the meeting point, to exchange models between tools, applications, and repositories. Because of XML's Web abilities, XMI can either be stored in a file system or streamed over the Internet from a database or repository.

XMI could also keep new proprietary metadata interchange formats from popping into existence, which could, in the long run, help to integrate Java-, CORBA-, XML-, and COM-based development environments.

XMI brings XML together with the OMG's Unified Modeling Language and Meta Object Facility specifications.

OMG Chairman and CEO Richard Soley said, "XMI enables developers to choose best-of-breed software development tools and to communicate among different repository tools, thus speeding the software development cycles and enabling best practices."

Aberdeen Group analyst Tim Sloane notes that just a few minor adjustments would allow XMI to include Microsoft-generated COM objects and Java objects (even JavaBeans). Sloane commented that "A minor effort could bring [XMI] into the NT/COM or Java worlds.... It should be possible without breaking a sweat."

In fact, XMI is already being written and supported by vendors, including Boeing, Daimler-Benz, Fujitsu, IBM, NCR, NTT, Oracle, Rational Software, Sprint, Sybase, Unisys, Verilog, and Xerox. According to OMG officials, IBM, Oracle, and Unisys plan to launch XMI in products as early as Q299.

At press time, the XMI plan had passed OMG's Technology Adoption process and was up for a formal technology adoption vote by the membership.

New version of DB2 Universal Database from IBM

IBM's AS/400 announced the first 64-bit version of its DB2 Universal Database, complete with enhancements and the ability to manage multimedia datatypes.

The new version will also:

  • Feature better scalability, especially when querying large user data-warehouses.

  • Showcase bit-map indexes, a new indexing technique that improves querying in data warehouse applications by a factor of 200, according to IBM officials. IBM business intelligence program manager Brant Davison said, "We took one query involving a large data warehouse that normally took two hours and were able to run it in 35 seconds because of the improvements in indexing."

  • Offer improved parallel capabilities for the backup and load utilities to speed performance. Company-run early benchmark results show a 40-fold increase when loading large applications.

  • Improved Java accessibility to the database through access to the Java Security Extensions, an improved version of the 64-bit JVM, and a new AS/400 Developer Kit for Java.

The new version was announced along with several updated AS/400 servers and an improved version of OS/400. The database should be available in May, but on-board support for managing large or complex multimedia objects won't be available until September, at least.

IBM, Ashley Laurent propose to extend IPSec standard

IBM and Ashley Laurent (a virtual private network vendor) announced that they intend to propose extending the IP Security (IPSec) protocol. The purpose of the proposed extension would be to integrate Network Address Translation (NAT) with IPSec.

This merger would let outside users (telecommuting or in-the-field employees, corporate partners, etc.) use a set of private IP addresses when they communicate with corporate headquarters.

IPSec defines common methods to authenticate users and encrypt traffic, which in turn allows for automatic setup of secured sessions between users.

IBM is readying a request for comment to deliver before the IPSec group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Ashley Laurent President Jeffrey Goodwin said the proposal will probably be presented within a few weeks. He's hoping for a quick adoption for the proposal (which has piqued the interest of other vendors such as Cisco), possibly by the fall. Goodwin said, "We think it has all the fundamentals to move through quickly."

Goodwin also noted that Ashley Laurent is working with IBM to integrate the capabilities of its VPCom server into the AS/400, OS/390, and RS/6000 server architectures. The VPCom server allows administrators to assign trusted users a virtual IP address from a set of private addresses. With these addresses, users can directly access other remote users and Windows NT server resources as if they're on a LAN. NAT also allows routers to recognize these users and direct their traffic to the VPCom server.

Software AG to unveil Tamino XML server

Software AG intends to debut Tamino, an information server based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML), at the CeBit '99 trade show in March in Hanover, Germany.

The Tamino server will act as an intermediate-level storage location for XML-based documents that two or more companies can share over the Internet. This approach (dedicating a server as a database) is different from the tack other vendors are taking (adjusting existing databases to process XML data).

Software AG spokesperson Wolf-Rdiger Hansen noted that Tamino is unlike other XML products in that it can directly store documents written in XML without having to convert them into another format. Without the conversion layer, the server can manage and process the data faster.

At press time, the company's site contained no information on Tamino. Company officials said they will offer more details in a March 2 press briefing.

The future of Enterprise JavaBeans

At the recent Iona World conference, closing keynote speaker Mala Chandra, director of Enterprise Java at Sun, detailed what's in the cards for Enterprise JavaBeans.

Chandra said the next, or "Moscone," EJB release will tighten version 1.0 code and use XML for deployment descriptors. Chandra noted that the specifications for "Moscone" should be ready in Q299. A reference implementation should appear by the end of 1999.

The following release, code-named "Javits," will deal with connecting to legacy data, such as that found in enterprise resource planning systems. "Javits" specifications should show up Q100.

After "Javits" will come "Milano," which should be the release that will offer entity Beans.

Chandra offered other future EJB plans:

  • Building a reference implementation for the Enterprise Java platform, which includes compatibility tests.

  • Delivering benchmark tests so developers can measure the performance of EJB applications.

  • Delivering Java Server Pages (JSP), which use Java as a scripting language and are compiled as servlets. (Microsoft's Active Server Pages are unlike JSPs in that they are interpreted, not compiled.)

Chandra emphasized that XML would play a major role in Sun's enterprise strategy, noting that Sun intends to submit a "Java-to-XML" proposal to a standards body.

Eolas sues Microsoft over Net-access patent

Eolas Technology filed a complaint in US District Court asking the court to stop distribution of Microsoft Windows 95/98 and Internet Explorer, alleging that Microsoft is infringing on a broad technology patent granted to Eolas in 1998. The technology in question allows a Web browser to access such interactive Web-page programs as plug-ins, applets, or ActiveX controls.

Patent number 5,838,906 describes a "system allowing a user of a browser access and execute an embedded program object."

Eolas is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction to stop Microsoft from manufacturing the products until the case comes to trial.

Eolas founder and CEO Michael Doyle noted that the patent is sufficiently broad to apply to virtually any product on the market that uses a system for accessing executable programs in Web pages, which could include the Navigator browser and Java programming language.

Currently, no comment is forthcoming from Microsoft. In addition, no comment was forthcoming from any source at Eolas as to why Microsoft was chosen for this complaint, or whether other companies may be targeted. Sun spokesperson Lisa Poulson said, "We are aware of the patent, which seems to be a very broad one."

It's more Java at Iona as it buys EJBHome

Iona Technologies has purchased EJBHome, a UK-based developer of Enterprise JavaBeans technology and components, for an undisclosed amount.

With EJBHome, Iona receives the company's EJB development kit and tutorials, as well as the availability catalog of third-party beans that EJBHome was maintaining. Company officials said that it will soon offer native EJB support for its Orbix object request broker products. (The newest version, Orbix 3.0, includes a COM-to-CORBA bridge.)

Iona is possibly riding the cutting edge, as CORBA (its original specialty) shows signs of converging with Java, EJB, and COM. At the recent Iona World conference, the company also announced that it licensed Java from Sun and will market Java-based middleware.

Speedy compressed-HTML transfer may compromise security

ISV Remote Communications (RCI) announced the beta of HyperSpace Data Compression (HSDC), an application that compresses HTML files, speeding their transfer. The problem: It may also allow compressed viruses or malicious mobile code to slip through firewalls, according to RCI CEO Peter Cranstone.

HyperSpace Data Compression is expected to ship soon. It lets users create compressed HTML files that can be transferred 60 to 70 percent faster across networks, according to company officials.

Cranstone said, "I can embed anything I want in there in any format. But let's say I was a nasty individual and I coded up a virus. I simply turn that virus into an HTML document." It would then slip past the firewall and be decompressed into its virulent state.

Firewall vendor Check Point Software's product marketing group manager Greg Smith said that compressed HTML files are not usually scanned by firewalls. Smith adds that there is a way to take care of the potential problem. "The firewall can intercept any kind of traffic, including HTTP and HTML files. We can vector the traffic off to a content-screening application so that we can protect internal network resources." And there is desktop security to deal with, even if the virus slips through the firewall.

RCI has been talking with Finjan to discuss the possibilities of malicious Java applets or ActiveX controls slipping into a server in this way.

Sun licenses PalmPilot HotSync technology

3Com and Sun announced that Sun has licensed 3Com subsidiary Palm Computing's HotSync technology. Sun will use HotSync to build Java ports for data synchronization between PalmPilot handhelds and applications on Sun workstations.

Users will be able to share data files between Desktop Mail and Calendar Manager on their Sun desktops and their Palm Computing devices counterparts. Sun will initially develop ports so the PalmPilot core applications -- Address Book, Date Book, Memo Pad, and Palm Mail -- can synchronize with workstation counterparts.

JDC offers free EJB tutorial on building stateless session bean

The Java Developer Connection is offering "Enterprise JavaBeans Tutorial: Building Your First Stateless Session Bean," an online tutorial by Tom Daly and Uday Shetty.

The tutorial demonstrates how easy it is to build server-side Java components using the Enterprise JavaBeans component model. It shows you how to program Enterprise JavaBeans, and how to install, or deploy, them in a third-party-supplied Enterprise JavaBeans container. The tutorial helps users better understand the EJB specification and model by providing concrete examples and step-by-step guidelines.

It is broken into eight steps:

  1. Install an EJB server
  2. Specify the EJB remote interface
  3. Specify the home interface
  4. Write the EJB class
  5. Create the ejb-jar file
  6. Deploy the DemoBean EJB
  7. Write the EJB client
  8. Run the client

The example introduces a complete stateless session EJB with source code for the components. It is similar to "Hello World." The example is built assuming access to the BEA Weblogic Tengah EJB server, but the Bean code should work in any EJB-compliant container or server.

(To use this site, you will have to register, but it's free.)

Warp 10 kit makes tools to manage media

Warp 10 announced The Digital Toolkit 1.0 (TDT), a Java development tool kit for designing media asset-management applications.

TDT 1.0 is a set of Java classes and C/C++ programs that can be used to implement a multi-tier C/S or standalone software system, designed to manage digital assets by pulling the functions of a digital multimedia repository into host applications.

Its Java- and Web-based architecture can be used to craft e-commerce and brand-management applications. The applications built with TDT can also manage objects such as images, video, audio, and text files.

TDT includes an embedded object database, Web templates, a full-text search engine, TDT Java classes, and a sample application of an image repository and Java upload module. Other software includes ODI Object Forms 2.2.1, ODI Object Store 5.1, and Image Majick 4.0.

It runs on Solaris 2.5.3/2.6 and Windows NT 4.0 SP3. It requires JDK 1.1.5 and an HTTP server. TDT costs 5,000 for a five-administrator license.

DataChannel kicks off "Show Me the XML!" contest

DataChannel announced the "Show Me the XML!" contest, a contest designed to let developers show off their implementations built with the DataChannel/Microsoft co-developed XML Java Parser beta 2 (XJ2).

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