News and New Product Briefs (2/15/98)

JavaSoft releases Java enterprise directory hooks

JavaSoft has released the Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI), a developer tool for building Java applications that can access multiple standard naming and directory services.

Found on site, JNDI (actually a working reference implementation) supplies a critical link to Java for legacy-system software. However, JavaSoft has indicated that it won't be integrating JNDI into the next version of the JDK, version 1.2 due in June 1998. This delay, according to some in Sun's Java alliance, could hamper developers' efforts to develop server-side Java programs. But some third-party vendors have started integrating JNDI into products using the draft specifications that were released in 1997.

JNDI is the Java API that gives Java applications a single interface to enterprisewide multiple naming and directory services such as Novell Directory Services (NDS), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), and the Network Information Service (NIS). JNDI gives the corporate user the ability to access, in example, a plethora of customer information residing in different databases.

Caravelle's IPnetWatcher spawns a Java edition

Caravelle has spun off a Java edition of its IPnetWatcher software, a product that scans and reports on the status of IP networks.

With the Java Edition, you can use a Java-enabled browser to receive immediate status reports. The network monitoring tool automatically notifies you through e-mail, a pager, or at your desktop (when you log on) when it detects a network problem.

The software is customizable, so you can set the notification criteria and choose which device you want to monitor. It will even let you set up a testing schedule (and prompt you when testing time has arrived).

IPnetWatcher helps you test your HTTP Web server. You can also monitor other site bits, including FTP, DNS, NNTP, POP3, and SMTP services, and make sure each (downloads, e-mail, news servers, for example) is working correctly.

IPnetWatcher Java Edition costs 95 for three nodes; you can get an unlimited enterprise license for 0,000.

Netscape's Kiva Enterprise Server for e-commerce

Netscape has released the Kiva Enterprise Server 2.0 (KES), server software for corporations that anticipate employing a lot of Web-based, high-transaction, electronic-commerce applications. This is the first release of the product since Netscape acquired it.

KES is comprised of the Enterprise Server, the Developer Studio (an IDE), and the Extension Toolkit.

The Developer Studio development environment easily integrates with such third-party development tools as Visual Café, Visual C++, Java Workshop, and PowerSite. It includes:

  • A project manager
  • HTML/Java editing tools and wizards
  • A graphical query designer
  • Flexible support for multiple client types (such as HTML, C++, Java)
  • CORBA support
  • Support for building native Java, C, and C++ clients

Applications developed with KES have native access support for such databases as DB2, Informix, Sybase, and Oracle, as well as ODBC access.

Enhancements to the Enterprise Server include better scalability and fault tolerance. Load balancing has been improved by distributing the function across all the servers in the environment, thus doing away with the possibility of a single point of failure. The Enterprise Server now also supports real-time exchange of session/state data (keeping transmission loss to a minimum) and its Administrator tool (for managing the distributed environment) has a better interface.

The Extension Toolkit (available at additional cost) is designed to facilitate links between KES and other large-enterprise applications, and should be a help when developers want to integrate services into the application environment.

The Developer Studio piece costs ,295 per developer. The Enterprise Server portion will run 5,000 per CPU for Windows NT and 5,000 per CPU for Solaris, HP-UX, and IRIX. The Extension Toolkit has not been priced yet.

Netscape halts development of Java VM software

Netscape has decided not to continue with development of Java VM software for its browser. Officials decided that the new Communicator API, compliant with any VM, replaced its need to work on its own VM software. And the effort to port, tune, and test slowed the development.

The company insists that it is not abandoning its commitment to Java. With at least 17 other OS vendors developing Java VMs for their operating systems, the company felt that it was redundant to work on its own VM when the Communicator API would support the VMs on the other operating systems.

Officials insist that the company is still developing Javagator, its all-Java browser, and its server-side Java products. (Server-side products have become Netscape's paying concern since its recent announcement to give away its browser client products.)

Sun JDK product manager Frank Rimalovski agrees with Netscape's move. "I view it as a positive thing in that it will allow Netscape to focus on browser and Web servers, the things they do well, and leverage the work of [developers]. It will also improve compatibility." Gartner Group analyst David Smith echoes Rimalovski. "Java remains a very important part of Netscape's strategy, but other vendors are doing their own VMs anyway, so it didn't make sense for Netscape to be doing it as well."

Internet Explorer 4.0 bug

A bug with a two-pronged result was discovered in Internet Explorer 4.0 in November 1997.

The bug (occurring when users clicked on a URL link that started with the prefix res://) caused IE to crash and causes unwanted code to execute on users' machines. A patch was issued to fix this. (res:// is used by Microsoft to display Web pages stored in binary format on a hard drive.)

In January 1998, a similar bug was discovered in IE 4.0 and 4.0.1 when users tried to open a URL that starts with mk:// -- not so unusual since res and mk both share code segments. This bug can also crash IE or execute programs, and IE 3.02 users running Visual Studio may also be affected. Mac and Unix versions aren't affected.

Blue Lobster's Stingray SDK gets 100% Pure Java certification

The Stingray 3270 SDK 1.6 from Blue Lobster Software has received 100% Pure Java certification.

Stingray 3270 SDK allows users to create Java-based applets and applications that communicate with mainframe applications through 3270 terminal emulation. The Stingray SDK (comprised of the Java-based 3270 terminal emulator, JavaBeans terminal and keyboard components, and TN3270 protocol classes) records host sessions, converts them to Java code, and creates Java applications that directly access legacy data.

Blue Lobster president Tom Robinson said, "We have heard from our customers that true platform independence is a key factor in their consideration of legacy-to-Web solutions. 100% Pure Java certification ensures our customers that Stingray-developed applications have been thoroughly tested, and they will run across all major Java-enabled platforms. This is important for companies that want to preserve their investment in the existing technology infrastructure."

Schlumberger's Cyberflex Multi 8K Java card available

Schlumberger has released the Cyberflex Multi 8K Java card, which offers enhanced support for secure multiple applications, in the current version of the Cyberflex Development Kit.

Cyberflex Multi 8K is designed from the Cyberflex 2.0 Core technology specs the company introduced in 1997. The new card has tripled its Cardlet (applet) memory space to 8 kilobytes. And, new on-card code reduces the amount of code the applets need to run.

Survey says: Major players must cooperate

Miller Freeman Inc. (with International Data Corp. and survey company Market Perspectives) have announced the results of a survey they conducted at MFI's Software Development '97 conference in October 1997.

Software and Web developers all pointed to the importance of cooperation of the major industry leaders in Web-based development (75%). Other attendee responses include:

  • 75% plan to use Java in the coming year
  • 42% plan to use ActiveX
  • HTML, C++, C, Java, and Visual Basic are the top five languages used
  • 65% plan to develop distributed applications in Java

Market Perspectives manager Rick Blum added, "We also see that software developers are significantly more active than Web developers in purchasing object-oriented tools, while Web developers are more involved in design/multimedia product and tool purchases."

Network Appliance uses Java VM to provide backup for data servers

Dedicated, high-speed data server maker Network Appliance announced that it will integrate Legato Systems' NetWorker client and storage node software with its data server through a Java VM, to provide data backup and restore functions to secondary storage devices.

The Legato software is being developed in Java, with the first implementation as the NetWorker Client for NetApp, supported by NetApp servers.

IDC senior analyst Robert Gray said, "IT managers require three things: systems that stay up, network stability and data security. The ability to backup data is crucial to any disaster recovery plan. NetWorker Client for NetApp will allow IT managers to backup and restore data on NetApp data servers similarly to other application servers."

The companies expect the software to be available in early 1999.

Metamorphic debuts COBOL-to-everything converters

Metamorphic Computing Corp. (MCC) announced the Metamorphic COBOL Converter, a recompiler software that lets programmers convert legacy apps to Java, VB, or C++ -- quickly.

The Metamorphic COBOL Converter lets developers take existing ANSI 85 COBOL programs, run them through the converter (which gives them compile-ready code), and then convert them into Java 1.2, VB 5.0, or C++ apps (C++ apps must be supported by Microsoft's MFC).

MCC does the translations itself (for a fee), with two options:

  • Straight conversion with no tuning for rapid turnaround
  • Conversion with tuning

A third option includes purchasing the converter from MCC.

Available now, contact the company for pricing.

Symbol to place Java in handheld devices

Symbol Technologies has recently licensed Java to integrate into a wide range of its handheld devices that are designed for vertical-market use.

Symbol marketing VP Ron Goldman said the company decided to license Java when several of its retail customers adopted the language. He added, "We have completed a technology licensing agreement with JavaSoft that allows us access to either Personal Java 1.0 or Embedded Java."

The company will start developing a Java VM for its own handheld devices. Look for delivery dates of specific products within the next two months. (Currently, Symbol is also developing versions of 3Com's PalmPilot that feature wireless communications and barcode scanners.)

Activerse debuts DingBot SDK

Activerse announces the DingBot SDK, a software developers kit that allows developers to create customized bots according to the specifications of the individual user or enterprise, then integrate the bots with the company's Java-based Ding!/Ding!Switchboard messaging software system.

DingBots can be created to retrieve targeted information, manage intra-group communication, and control online devices. The custom bots can be accessed through Ding!'s peer list. The bots also work with the same security constraints as Ding! users. The bots can be deployed anywhere on the 'Net.

The DingBot SDK uses JavaBeans to create classes of bots that can then be adapted by specifying properties. DingBots use WhoDP, a URL-based naming protocol that conforms to the RVP instant-messaging standard.

The DingBot SDK beta will be available for download late Q1 '98.

@Work Tech's WorkOut system for massive document distribution

@Work Technologies debuts the Java-based WorkOut document distribution system, designed for companies that have to distribute large amounts of documents over the Internet or intranets.

WorkOut is designed to distribute large volumes of computer-generated documents, such as bills, statements, and reports, over the Internet and intranets. Java allows WorkOut to interpret, parse, index, archive, and render complex production print-stream files, such as IBM's Advanced Function Presentation (AFP) format. These print streams are typically created by large-scale production systems, such as account receivable and general ledger.

WorkOut features include:

  • A Java viewer that supports searching, viewing, markup, annotations, and data extracts
  • Java "servlets" that dynamically convert production data into HTML and XML documents
  • Support for the Open Financial Exchange Bill Presentment (OFX-PRES) standard
  • Event-driven e-mail notification of users
  • Visually definable document layouts that ease indexing and data extraction
  • A JavaBeans toolkit
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