News and New Product Briefs (6/7/99)

Happy birthday to Java

In case you missed it, announced that May 23, 1999 was the fourth birthday of the official announcement of Java to the world -- May 23, 1995.

Court rules on preliminary motions in Sun-Microsoft case

US District Court Judge Ronald Whyte issued tentative rulings on three of the original ten motions filed by Sun and Microsoft on January 22.

One of Whyte's nonbinding rulings states that Microsoft's use of Java in Windows 98, Internet Explorer 4.0, and VisualJ++ 6.0 infringes on Sun's source code copyrights.

The other two rulings state that Microsoft does have the right to develop an independent, "clean room" implementation of Java, and it may distribute clean room versions that do not comply with Sun Java compatibility tests.

At the end of each ruling, the court asked questions to help lawyers for both sides prepare to address the relevant issues that need to be resolved before the judge renders the final decision. A hearing on the rulings has been set for June 24. Other rulings could come at any time.

These rulings do not affect the preliminary injunction Sun was granted on November 17, 1998, in which Judge Whyte ordered Microsoft to make changes to some of its products so they include a version of Java that will pass Sun's compatibility test suite. Microsoft has appealed that ruling, and an appellate court is scheduled to hear the appeal on June 16. emerges as home of the XML spec

OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, has sprouted, a Web site to act as a repository for Extensible Markup Language (XML) information. will be available for users and developers.

The site will offer a registry and repository to access and manage XML schemas, Document Type Definitions (DTD), and other XML-related information. The site will also implement an architecture that uses existing as well as emerging XML registry and repository standards.

Microsoft says XML key to next generation's Web

At the recent TechEd conference, Microsoft Developer Group Vice President Paul Maritz said that today's Web is the second generation, focusing on the server and providing applications and data to users. Maritz predicted that the next-generation Web will become an "application integration architecture" -- a business-transaction gateway. And Maritz thinks that XML will be the key to make it work.

Maritz said, "XML will revolutionize the usage of the Web to make it a business driver." Maritz predicts that XML will transport data just like HTML transports Web pages. And the Component Object Model will provide for object transportation.

Microsoft Developer Division Vice President Tod Nielsen agreed, commenting that XML would eventually be a native part of all the company's products.

Symantec adopts EJB for its tools

Symantec announced that it will adopt the Enterprise JavaBeans (EJB) 1.1 specification, recently released, for its VisualCafe for Java tools suite. The company will also partner with EJB server makers to offer deployment modules for individual runtime and Entity Beans implementations.

VisualCafe Product Manager Kent Mitchell said, "Instead of five or six steps to deploy Java applications, developers will just debug in Symantec, and it will automatically deploy to the specified runtimes."

Symantec officials said that in July 1999, Symantec will deliver an EJB Universal Framework and discrete modules designed to craft integration paths between Symantec Enterprise Suite and third-party application servers. The first module will be a bridge between Symantec's product and the BEA WebLogic Server. Each subsequent month, modules for other products will emerge. Symantec officials predict that IBM WebSphere, Sun NetDynamics, and Iona HomeBase modules will soon follow.

Sun, Netscape wed app servers

The Sun-Netscape Alliance announced plans to merge the Netscape Application Server and Sun NetDynamics application server software into a single, unified platform -- the Alliance Application Server. That way, customers working on either platform now will be able to continue deploying applications on the new server. The merger will take place in two steps.

First, the Alliance will release NetDynamics 5.01 and Netscape Application Server 4.0 in July 1999. Each architecture will support a common programming model that's based on Java 2, Enterprise Edition (including EJBs), Java Server Pages, and the Java Servlet API. Both of these server upgrades should deliver better performance and scalability, according to Steve Nathan, vice president of application server products for the Sun-Netscape Alliance.

The Alliance will also release an application server system that consists of NetDynamics and Netscape App Server products early in 2000, a system that will include both execution models, as well as shared components for management (including directory management) and enterprise integration. This system should also offer mature APIs for the Enterprise Edition of the Java 2 SDK, XML support, Java Messaging Services technology, and enhancements to database performance.

Second, the Alliance will introduce an application server system that merges the rapid development environment, business framework, and enterprise integration components of NetDynamics with the transaction-processing abilities and high availability architecture of the Netscape App Server. According to Alliance officials, the server will offer backward compatibility to both applications.

Nathan thinks that this is the perfect time for this offering, since "Everybody is needing to make the critical migration to Java 2."

Progress Software moves aim at ASPs

Progress Software announced plans to use Java and XML standards to tie its Apptivity and Progress servers together, giving it an opportunity to position its products for a newly emerging market -- application service providers (ASPs).

Progress plans to deliver Apptivity Server 4.0 (Vader) in the fourth quarter of 1999. Vader is an EJB-, XML-, and Java Messaging Service (JMS)-enabled server. JMS will be a part of Java 2 Enterprise Edition, also arriving in the fourth quarter; it offers a cross-platform message-queuing alternative to IBM's MQSeries and Microsoft's MSMQ middleware.

Progress intends to unveil Vader+ in 2000. Vader+ will be the peak of the company's universal application architecture initiative, and will form an integrated platform and incorporate the current Apptivity and Progress servers. Vader+ will support Java, 4GL, C++, and COBOL applications.

Progress Vice President Jeff Weil also announced the Aspen Program, an initiative to help ISVs that want to quickly become ASPs.

Iona OrbixHome is a CORBA/EJB developers kit

Iona Technologies announced OrbixHome, a developers kit designed to generate, integrate, and manage CORBA and EJB components.

OrbixHome (the former Orbix BeansTalk) is a development environment for both CORBA components and EJBs, one that combines Iona's CORBA 3-level object-request broker engine and services with Iona's HomeBase EJB 1.1-level container, EJB application interfaces, and other deployment and management utilities.

OrbixHome is designed to pick up where Java tools (for debugging, developing, and compiling) leave off, handling packaging, deployment, and management. It supports Stateless Session Beans, Stateful Session Beans, Entity Beans, the Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI), and RMI and XML-based deployment descriptors.

OrbixHome uses graphical tools for development and management; it includes the ability to extend EJB components to CORBA, as well as the ability to add such advanced services as transactions.

The software also provides a graphical environment that allows EJB components to be dragged and dropped from a component repository into large-scale deployments.

On first release, OrbixHome will support integration with Symantec's VisualCafe for Java development tool. According to the company, support for other tools will follow. The first release will also require that developers deploy CORBA applications using Iona's Orbix ORB; later versions will support other CORBA ORBs. Subsequent releases will support development and deployment of components in C++ and COBOL. Later versions should also handle multiple component models, even COM+.

OrbixHome should ship the third quarter of 1999, and will be showcased at the upcoming JavaOne conference in San Francisco. Pricing information will be available at the conference. At press time, there was no further information on the company's site. OrbixHome will run on Solaris, Windows 9x/NT, HP-UX, AIX, and Digital Unix platforms. It will support Oracle and SQL Server.

NCI rises from the ashes

Network Computers Inc. (NCI) announced new investors, a new focus, and a new name: Liberate Technologies.

Liberate CEO Mitch Kertzman, said "We think this name more accurately represents the business that we are in and the spirit of the company," and highlights the company's shift in strategy from corporate solutions to consumer-oriented Internet solutions. In specifics, the company will focus on information appliances.

Liberate has received 0 million from 11 strategic investors, among them the Cox, MediaOne, and Comcast cable operations.

Kertzman noted that Java, PersonalJava, and Jini will be key to the company's platforms.

London Fire and Civil Defense manages finances with Java

The London Fire and Civil Defense Authority, responsible for the London Fire Brigade, is changing its financial-management systems by installing Masterpiece/Net, Prestige Software's Java-based financial-management software, in the 112 Greater London fire stations.

The system is implemented to disperse its accounting and purchasing tasks to the individual stations, accessible through a browser and linked over an intranet to a central site. Accounting Systems Manager Derek Rushforth said, "Increasing numbers of employees are now being enabled to work from remote locations. Elements of the finance function are being devolved to each one of its 112 Greater London area-wide locations. The finance operation in each station itself will require accessibility to the central site both to input and retrieve information."

The client version of Prestige's Masterpiece/Net runs on a Windows NT platform, with Internet Explorer as the common interface to allow users to access the server component of Masterpiece/Net, which runs on a central AS/400 server. The remote locations and central finance office are linked by an Ethernet WAN.

Developer Release 4 of Java Card API

The Java Developer Connection announced the availability of the Java Card API Reference Implementation Developer's Release 4.

This release includes an environment in which applets written for the Java Card platform can be tested. Early access to this reference implementation should allow developers to build applets that use the features of version 2.1.

Users will have to register to access this site.

Say hello to JMF 2.0 EA API

The Java Developer Connection announced the early access release of the Java Media Framework (JMF) 2.0, and API that lets developers incorporate disparate media types into Java applets and applications. It also supports capture, transmission, playback, and transcode of many types of audio and video.

It comes in three versions:

  • A cross-platform implementation written solely in Java for use on Java-compatible clients
  • A version with the Solaris Performance Pack that optimizes its performance on Solaris
  • A version with the Windows Performance Pack that optimizes its performance on Windows

Users will have to register to access this site.

Java Shared Data Toolkit 1.5 is here

The site announced the free availability of the Java Shared Data Toolkit version 1.5, a development library that lets developers add collaboration features to Java applets and applications.

The Java Shared Data Toolkit software can be used to build network-centric applications, such as shared whiteboards, chat rooms, remote presentations, and shared simulations. It includes sample programs (a chat environment, a shared whiteboard, a networked game, a stock quote viewer, and a sound server) and supports multi-threading.

Three recent technology releases from Sun

Sun released three new bits of Java technology -- JavaBeans Activation Framework (JAF) 1.0.1, Java Transaction API (JTA) 1.0.1, and JDBC 2.0 Standard Extension Source and Binary.

The JAF 1.0.1 extension, released on May 24, lets Java developers take advantage of standard services to determine the type of an arbitrary piece of data, encapsulate access to it, discover the operations available on it, and to instantiate the appropriate JavaBean to perform operations. JAF is implemented as a standard extension, and Sun provides a royalty-free reference implementation in binary form. Access requires registration in Java Developer Connection.

The JTA 1.0.1 specification, released on May 18, specifies standard Java interfaces between a transaction manager and the parties involved in a distributed transaction system -- the resource manager, the application server, and the transactional applications.

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