News and New Product Briefs (12/2/98)

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Ross wants Sun to open Java control even wider

At Comdex, Java Lobby founder and president Rick Ross asked Sun to release its current level of control over the Java standard because he sees a threat that corporate rivalry may eliminate Java's cross-platform abilities.

Ross called Sun's current Java open-development process "broken" since "only licensees can participate. It's broken because Sun's control is too arbitrary. There is too much not-invented-here syndrome at Sun." Ross added, "Sun claims its process is more open than any other process, but to me this sounds like a benevolent dictator saying I treat my subjects better than any other dictator. As developers, we're not looking for a dictator, we're looking for a partner."

Ross cited the number of Java developers that don't work for Sun or Microsoft as the basis for asking for more outside participation in the language's development. "There are hundreds of thousands Java developers. Their cumulative numbers dwarf the number of people working on Java for Sun or MS. Those people at these companies represent about one percent of the total Java community. Our cumulative investment also dwarfs Sun's investment."

Ross also cited already made decisions that were not in Java developers' best interests, such as ignoring QuickTime streaming-multimedia tools even though it is the most popular multimedia platform today. He notes too that Sun still hasn't submitted a Java standard specification to ISO. He also notes that Sun could head off future conflicts; if Sun doesn't control the process so closely, Ross reasons, then members like IBM and Oracle couldn't be suspicious of Sun building and marketing a Java-based applications server that might have an inside edge over their offerings.

Ross is asking for a three-tier standards process for Java, one of Sun, for-profit companies, and nonprofit companies.

Various developers agree and disagree with Ross to varying degrees, including such views as

  • completely opening the Java process, but retaining control at the EJB level.
  • allowing multiple-implementation standards.
  • allowing the untidy free-market process to sort it out.

Ross comments on Microsoft's Java moves

Java Lobby president Rick Ross commented with concern on Microsoft's direction with Java.

Ross said, "Fear is driving Microsoft's approach to Java, not vision. Microsoft has lopped all Java developers with Sun, and in so doing they foolishly made enemies of the loyal developers. Microsoft should adopt a 'runs anywhere but runs best on Windows' strategy, instead of the embrace, extend, and extinguish strategy we're currently seeing."

Avitek kicks off Authorized Java Center

Avitek announced the opening of an Authorized Java Center in Boulder, CO, one of the 14 Authorized Java Center service locations in the US.

As an Authorized Java Center, Avitek has representative that are trained to provide education, training, integration, and consulting services to business customers who want to integrate Java into existing systems. They will deliver assessment and mentoring services through a demonstration facility that runs Java on a variety of platforms. They can also offer demonstrations of the latest Java technology advances.

The company plans to celebrate the opening with a day-long Java Technology Harvest event with presentations on the latest Java technology developments. It's scheduled panel discussions and presentations, as well as case studies of successful Java application implementations.

picoJava plans at Comdex

At one session of Java University at Comdex, four picoJava licensees disclosed their plans for the Java chip core technology.

Korea's ETRI demonstrated NetTheater, an Internet set-top box reference design developed with a picoJava-based chip (from LG Semiconductor) and completed with all-Java software. The box supports multimedia applications that run in a PersonalJava 1.1 environment.

Fujitsu plans to use its LSI technology as the centerpiece of its picoJava products. It will offer a picoJava core to deliver high-speed Java bytecode execution. It plans to introduce an evaluation kit for picoJava in 1999.

NEC plans to focus on building a picoJava core for the embedded controller market, as well as using the picoJava core as an IP core in its "System on a Chip" (SOC) concept (for adding high functionality to embedded device controllers).

Siemens Semiconductors will develop the 88-series, high-end controllers for smart cards. The 88-series is designed to speed the execution of the Java Card Instruction Set and at the same time, covers the requirements of multi-application cards. It will also develop smart card chips for banking, electronic commerce, mobile communications, and health care applications.

Sun demonstrated JDK 1.1.4 running on the microJava 701 chip, which is based on the picoJava-II core. It will be deployed as an evaluation platform for OEMs.

ETRI offers NetTheater set-top

The Korea-based Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) demonstrated NetTheater 0.5, an Internet set-top box that contains an embedded Java processor manufactured by LG Semiconductor.

NetTheater lets users execute Java applications over the Net. It comes with its own software package that includes a Web-top manager, an online news service client, a browser, and an email client. The included PersonalJava 1.1 environment runs atop the Teapot RTOS, and all software is implemented in Java.

NetTheater's system software is stored in flash memory, so it upgrades easily by downloading new software from various ISPs. It includes a MicroJava-1 33MHz microprocessor (MJ-1). And, according to the company, if LG Semiconductor releases a stable 100MHz MicroJava-2 processor (MJ-2), ETRI promises a faster product by the middle of 1999.

IBI upgrades ECB to support servlets

Information Builders Inc. announced that the upgrade to its Java application server, Enterprise Component Broker 2.0, has added support for Java servlets as well as Enterprise JavaBeans.

With servlet support, ECB users can access data from sources from anywhere in an enterprise; the servlets connect to each other and data sources through Information Builders' middleware, EDA. The servlets can save state information on the status of a session between a Web application and a client.

The EDA/ECB combination includes Symantec's Visual Cafe for Java and JavaBean development.

Prices range from ,500 to 15,000.

IBM AS/400s to run Intentia 64-bit Java ERP apps

IBM and Intentia announced that IBM's AS/400e server series will run AS/400 business partner Intentia's Movex 11, the only enterprise resource planning application written completely in Java.

Intentia is the Europe's third largest supplier of enterprise management systems behind SAP and Baan. the Movex product was developed with eight industry-specific applications:

  • food and beverage,
  • aviation,
  • pulp and paper,
  • steel,
  • automotive,
  • furniture,
  • service, and
  • rental.

Right now, the Movex application is optimized for AIX, but the company has plans to certify it for other operating systems.

alphaWorks releases 9 new XML Java tools

The busy-as-a-bee developers at IBM's alphaWorks have delivered nine new XML/Java tools.

XML TreeDiff

XML TreeDiff is a package of Beans that deliver the ability to easily differentiate and update DOM trees, much like diff and patch differentiate and update data files.

XML TreeDiff:


DataCraft delivers an XML view of databases and facilitates publishing XML forms to the Web.



PatML is a rule-based pattern match and replace Java processor for XML.


XML BeanMaker

BeanMaker is a utility that takes an arbitrary schema (DTD) for an XML instance and automatically generates JavaBean classes for the code.

XML BeanMaker:

Bean Markup Language

The Bean Markup Language (BML) is an XML-based component configuration or wiring language customized for the JavaBean model.

Bean Markup Language:


TeXML delivers a path from XML to the TeX formatting language.


Dynamic XML for Java

Dynamic XML for Java is a processor designed to seamlessly embed Java with XML.

Dynamic XML for Java:

XML Productivity Kit for Java

The XML Productivity Kit is a companion to the XML Parser in Java which provides programming resources for quickly building and deploying XML applications using Java.

XML Productivity Kit for Java:

XML EditorMaker

XML EditorMaker takes an XML schema and lets developers automatically generate visual editors for building XML documents.

XML EditorMaker:

Netroscope study profiles Java in the enterprise

Market-research firm Netroscope has published a detailed study, "Getting Down to Business: Enterprise Java Computing," that highlights the factors that move Java into the enterprise.

Some of the highlights of the report:

Although Netroscope calls EJBs a "cornerstone of Java computing," it believes that such issues as legacy and other component integration, common security model development, and robust management components need to be addressed before a full-fledged Java computing architecture is realized.

The company believes IBM, Sun, and Microsoft are still the most significant Java players, albeit with different approaches and motives. It notes that Microsoft's strategy to link Java and Windows is creating divisions in the enterprise.

The report predicts that IBM may emerge as the real leader when it comes to the practical implementation of Java. It cites IT professionals and ISVs perceptions that IBM does now and will continue to have the largest investment (and interest) in Java, with less political concerns than Sun (in contention not only with Microsoft's altering of Java, but also with HP and others over its Java standardization process) and Microsoft (trying to tie Java too tightly to Windows).

The report analyzes the Java adoption rate in the enterprise, the readiness of Java enterprise applications, market barriers, opportunities and benefits, and the competitive and strategic issues around the major players.

It is available for 95.

Insurance agency gets secure, high-performance site

Cafesoft has used server-side Java technology to build a secure Web site for Arrowhead General Insurance, one that lets field agents, employees, and business partners access policy holder data on its automotive insurance customers.

Cafesoft's model uses a middleware application to provide the business rules to communicate requests from the user through HTML forms. It then generates queries to an SQL database. The results are formatted by the application in HTML and returned to the browser.

Cafesoft selected HTML as the client presentation for fast Internet response and compatibility with browsers.

In the old way of doing things, agents called Arrowhead customer service representatives to get current policy holder information which was returned by phone, fax, or snailmail. Now, using a browser and secure login, agents can pull current automotive policy billing, driver, vehicle, and coverage information. And Arrowhead business partners and employees can do the same.

Arrowhead expects to get a complete return on its investment within six months by reducing personnel costs and response times.

Planetweb snaps up Java with acquisition of Novita

Planetweb announced that it has acquired Novita Communications, which means it adds Novita's Java-based multimedia applications, LiveLetter and LivePage, to its products. The acquisition of Java technologies also gives Planetweb the opportunity to develop a Java strategy.

The all-Java LiveLetter gives users fully graphical email capabilities. LivePage lets users quickly build their own Web pages.

Part of Planetweb's new Java strategy includes incorporating Java into future small-footprint software for consumer devices, as well as adding Java to its existing browser, email, and chat applications.

InfoWorld forum on Java future

InfoWorld author Bob O'Donnell is hosting a forum on whether a revitalized Java (starting with Judge Ronald Whyte's recent ruling of "yes" on Sun's preliminary injunction motion) can break the Microsoft operating system stranglehold and live up to its original promises.

How Microsoft intends to comply

Since the court didn't order Microsoft to remove any technology from its products (only to add support for Sun's Java), the company plans to modify Visual J++ 6.0 development tool so that developers have to choose to turn on the Microsoft "enhancements." When developers choose the Microsoft option, a message will appear that warns developers that the application they are about to write may run only on Windows.

The company will post patches to its Web site and issue a service pack release so existing customers can modify the products. It will ship upgraded versions to OEMs and retailers as soon as possible.

Microsoft doesn't lose one in Japan

The Japan Fair Trade Commission recently ended a probe into anti-competitive practices by Microsoft that begun a little over a year ago.

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