News and New Product Briefs (5/05/99)

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The compiler provides two garbage collectors: a copying collector and a generational collector. The copying collector reclaims all unused storage at the expense of more expensive collections and higher peak storage use. The generational collector has low pause times and is most efficient for large-live-set and high-garbage-generation-rate applications.

What's not here: This version doesn't support true dynamic loading of classes, and serialization, RMI, nor deprecated thread methods, and the JNI Invocation interface are not implemented. Also, since the company is not a Sun licensee, the class libraries are incomplete.

BulletTrain 1.0 costs 99 per seat with no runtime royalties, and runs on Windows 95/98/NT 4.0. There is a 30-day free trial version.

British Airways employs Java in call centers

British Airways announced that it has hired IBM to install OceanWave, a new Java-based, global customer-database system that allows its call center staff to access a single customer record regardless of location.

British Airways routinely transfer customer calls around the world during peak times to avoid busy tones. It also shunts calls at off-peak times so customers have round-the-clock access to call-center operators. In the past, when a call center was down for the nighttime backup, call center staff couldn't access local records.

OceanWave will be a system that lets each call center access a centralized customer record.

British Airways expects to deploy the OceanWave project sometime in Q299.

Rob Thorne, British Airways's senior customer data manager, says that OceanWave is "so easy to use that we may even let our customers themselves use it in the future."

Evergreen, PointBase embed RDB into Java e-commerce server

Evergreen Internet announced that it will embed the PointBase Server Edition relational database into ECential, its Java-based e-commerce engine. (PointBase is the former DataBahn.)

ECential features such technologies as Java Server Pages (JSP), XML, and CORBA, and it uses native JDBC for database access. The PointBase Server Edition database has been embedded into ECential to act as storage for product merchandise, server-side shopping cart data, and customer-order management data.

The incrementally scalable ECential sports:

  • A JSP-compliant Commerce Engine that maintains a persistent connection to all back-end ORBs and services
  • A standalone CORBA-based Token Service that generates unique session tokens (session identifiers, or SIDs) to identify transactions in the form of cookies
  • A Shopping Cart Service, which serves as an enterprise-wide repository for transient transaction data
  • Support for third-party payment-processing vendors
  • An interface to existing directory service databases
  • A preconfigured shipping and tax-calculation wizard

The all-Java PointBase database provides such multiuser functionality as row-level locking with concurrency management, server-based security, and an open naming and directory framework. It includes a data hotsync ability that allows bidirectional data synchronization with corporate databases, delivered through a heterogeneous replication utility that allows transparent data exchange with IBM DB/2 (AS/400, OS/390, UDB), Lotus Notes, MS SQLServer, Oracle, and Sybase.

PointBase includes a self-tuning query optimizer to track database activity and automatically tune the system to maximize application performance. It supports such standards as SQL-92, SQL-98, CORBA, and native JDBC. It runs on JVM 1.1 and later, and has been certified on MacOS, HP-UX, AIX, OS/390, Linux, Windows 95/98/NT, NetWare, and Solaris.



Survey shows consumers willing to pay to use smart cards

In a survey conducted for the Smart Card Forum, pollsters discovered that not only are Americans ready and willing to use smart cards, but that many would pay for the privilege.

Three-quarters of the respondents, contacted in focus groups and separate telephone surveys, were interested in using smart cards for banking, credit cards, driving records, and portable medical and insurance histories, and would be willing to pay up to 0 for the card and a 5 annual fee.

The potential core of users are in their 30s, have higher-than-average incomes, carry more than six cards already, and own a PC. Smart Card Forum President and CEO Donna Farmer said, "These initial poll results reveal that smart cards have a potential core early-adopter constituency of about a third of the population. That's a significant potential market."

The survey defined a smart card as a "card-sized unit with a memory that can hold just about any kind of information but requires some sort of reader to input or output data."

Potential users were interested in convenience (one card instead of many) and security (such as electronic fingerprinting as a means of identification).

Smart cards have been in use in Europe for years. Java is a natural language for limited-memory smart card applications.

Charlie and the World Wide Web Wrapper Factory

The University of Pennsylvania welcomes visitors to the World Wide Web Wrapper Factory 1.03 (W4F), a Java toolkit designed to generate wrappers for HTML data sources.

W4F 1.03 sports built-in declarative mapping to XML, and it consists of a retrieval language to identify Web sources, HEL (HTML Extraction Language, a declarative extraction language to express robust extraction rules), and a mapping interface for exporting the extracted information into a user-defined data structure such as text, Java objects, XML, and so on. The wrappers are generated as Java classes to be used as is, or integrated into higher-level applications.

W4F allows users to specify the translation of HTML pages into XML documents. The specification contains the Document Type Definition (DTD).

In version 1.03, visual support for wrapper creation is improved; HTML extraction can be performed with a WYSIWYG interface.

The prototype W4F is downloadable as a Java package, complete with some sample wrappers, and is free for noncommercial use.

Noviforum readies Java-based site search server

Noviforum announced the Trident Search Site Server for Java 1.05 (TS3J), an offering for ISPs and companies searching for a Java-based information-retrieval server.

TS3J 1.05 comes with language plugins to support English- or Slovenian-language queries. It is designed to provide plain language full-text search services of document data stored on Web servers across enterprise-wide intranet or regional Internet networks.

According to the company, average response times are under a second. TS3J can handle millions of documents (as tested in real-world situations, the largest installation has compiled a regional network index of 500,000 Web documents).

It supports incremental and adaptive spidering, realtime indexing, wildcard symbols in any position, and search results merging of various indexed data collections.

TS3J 1.05 is currently shipping. Pricing depends on the level (number) of documents a client wishes to be able to index. There is little additional information on the company's site; look for more info by the end of May 1999.

Sun offers i-Planet browser interface

In May 1999, Sun plans to ship i-Planet, a commercial version of its internal Sun.Net browser-based interface that springs from its alliance with Netscape, used to access applications and data in an extranet or intranet.

i-Planet lets outsiders -- whether they are telecommuting employees, business partners, or customers -- get to applications and data behind the corporate firewall. Its server-based, browser-like architecture doesn't require any installation of client software, therefore there are no management or configuration issues for clients. The client application is pushed to the client as HTML or is downloaded on demand as a Java applet.

i-Planet can employ the best possible Internet protocol for each user's platform (SMB for an NT server, HTTP/S connection for a workstation or Mac, and so on). It optimizes such tasks as a recursive directory filename search at the local network and outputs the results over the Internet WAN.

i-Planet will support proxy-based access from remote users to applications on platforms from NetWare to NT, from Solaris to IBM mainframes. It uses the existing application infrastructure and security systems installed by the server administrator. In fact, administrators can maintain profiles that detail user-access privileges.

It will be available for SPARC computers sometime in May 1999, with an NT version to follow in July 1999. i-Planet consists of a gateway, server software, and network software. Pricing will be user-based, ranging from 0,000 for 100 users to 9,995 for 1,000 users. Larger quantities will go for 6 a user.

Two new connectivity solutions from Informix

Informix announced two new products for connecting Java technology-based applications to Informix databases -- the JDBC 2.0 technology-enabled driver and Embedded SQLJ.

The JDBC 2.0 Driver is a Java type-4 technology-based implementation of the JDBC 2.0 specification from Sun, supporting all the spec's datatypes plus Informix's Opaque datatype, a technology that lets customers redefine the datatype to individual requirements. It allows Java applications to access all the features on the Informix Dynamic Server with the Universal Data Option.

Embedded SQLJ lets developers embed SQL statements directly in Java programs.

Both products are fully compliant with Java 2, and the driver supports all Informix databases that support Java 2. They are bundled together for distribution and are available free from Informix and its partner Intraware at:


Inprise readies JBuilder 3.0

Inprise's Borland Division plans to start shipping a more stable, mature Java 2-compliant JBuilder 3.0 sometime in May/June 1999.

According to Borland Product Manager Klaus Krull, JBuilder 3.0 will offer a more polished user interface and developer's workspace, as well as simpler, more advanced programming for CORBA. Its Java- and HTML-based help system has also been improved.

JBuilder 3.0 will feature JDK/Switching, a utility that makes it easy to switch between earlier and current versions of the JDK for debugging applications. It also allows remote debugging in which the tester can attach to the JVM that's running on the platform on the other side of the Internet.

It will come with about 300 prepackaged JavaBeans (components and source code), a Java 2 JIT compiler, and components and devtools for database development. There will be a bevy of graphical utilities to generate database and CORBA applications, and to build JavaBeans and EJBs.

As for CORBA, JBuilder 3.0 will offer a data modeler to generate CORBA Interface Definition Language code and an application generator to create n-tier applications. It should also be easier to build HTML front-end interfaces to access CORBA servers. JBuilder will add support for Iona's Orbix ORB.

JBuilder 3.0 will ship first for Windows 95/98/NT 4.0sp3. A Solaris version is promised by the end of 1999, with a Linux version to follow. The Enterprise version costs ,499; the Professional version, 99; and the Standard version, 00.

Sun scraps ISO plans, holds Java tighter

Sun has decided to scrap efforts to open Java through PAS submission to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), claiming that recent changes in technical specification maintenance have put Sun at a disadvantage.

Sun has argued with ISO during the application process, expressing its desire to retain control of Java. ISO usually doesn't grant that kind of authority to any single company or organization.

Alan Baratz, president of Sun's Java Software division, said that ISO changes had killed Sun's plans to submit Java. He also blamed Microsoft and the "Wintel alliance" for scuttling Sun's submission plans. In an interview in IT Week, Baratz said, "A PAS submitter must now turn over the maintenance part of a standard. That's something we've always said we wouldn't do. Sun invested a lot of time, money, and effort going through the process to become a PAS submitter, then Microsoft decided to spend several million dollars lobbying for a change in the rules."

Baratz continued, "If this is the way ISO wants to deal with the process, then fine. We doubt that there are any other commercial companies that will ever try to use [the PAS] process. It's a problem at the end of the day for ISO because they defined this process specifically to allow technologies like Java to easily become standards."

Microsoft has been an opponent of Sun's application to become a PAS submitter, but during the November 1997 ISO voting process, the company failed to sway enough votes in its direction, and Sun's application was approved.

Baratz also commented that Sun was "struggling to find a way forward" for Java standardization, talking with alternative organizations, such as the ECMA (European Computer Manufacturers Association). According to Baratz, potential candidates must be willing to ratify work handed over by Sun while agreeing to let the company set its own rules for moving Java forward.

This part of Baratz's comments echoed Sun's official position on the matter. A Sun spokesperson didn't confirm all of Baratz's comments, but did say (in a prepared statement), "Sun is considering alternate routes, including submitting the Java platform for standardization through an interim standards body such as the European Computer Manufacturers Association."

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