JavaWorld News Briefs (5/1/97)

Keeping you abreast of the ever-changing Java world

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This summer, the Java Development Kit will get an upgrade and performance tune-up. The JDK 1.2 will include a new security model that will enable Java applets to be executed outside the Java secure runtime environment. How? JavaSoft will add a flexible control scheme that will give users control over where a Java applet can run, depending on how the application is digitally signed. Still, a Java applet will have only limited access to system resources.

Also included in the tune-up will be a beta version of the JDK that features HotSpot (acquired from Anamorphic Inc.), a tuner that can speed up Java applications to a level near their C++ counterparts. Also look for the Java Application Foundation Classes to be included in the JDK, but not until fall '97.

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Lotus NotesPump 2.1 beta gets Java support

Lotus is updating its NotesPump server to offer support for Java and NotesPump API Java classes. NotesPump 2.1, now in beta testing, features real-time support for exchanging data between Notes databases, archiving features and links for Microsoft's SQL Server, Novell's Novell Directory Services, and the Notes Name and Address Book. NotesPump, a server that exchanges data between Notes and a range of relational databases, runs on AIX and Solaris on X86- and SPARC-based systems.

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NetHopper mobile browser will support Java

AllPen Software will incorporate Java technology into its NetHopper mobile/embedded Web browser -- the built-in browser on Apple's MessagePad 2000, a StrongArm Internet-enabled device, and eMate 300, Apple's new mobile computer for education.

"AllPen has shown strong commitment to Java," said Dr. Lew Tucker, director of Corporate and ISV Relations at JavaSoft, "first with its NetHopper Enterprise Server, which is written entirely in Java and demonstrated at JavaOne, and now with their pledge to add Java support to their NetHopper Browser."

Wayne Yurtin, co-founder of AllPen, replied, "We are anxious to provide our users with features, especially Java, that can enable both our customers as well as our licensees with a more feature rich Internet experience on their devices."

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Seven firms help NCs close in on standards

Seven high-tech companies recently joined The Open Group to move the network computer concept closer to a set of standards. Netscape, Navio Communications, Apple, IBM, Sun, Oracle, and Network Computer Inc. joined The Open Group to strengthen the Network Computer Reference Profile, one set of guidelines for building NCs. Microsoft is also working with The Open Group to convert portions of ActiveX for a recognized standard.

Don't expect to see any results soon, though. The Open Group has not yet submitted the NC Reference Profile to any standards body, though a spokesperson says there are plans to submit the profile for standards approval, with news on the effort coming this summer.

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RSA's BSafe toolkit spawns new Java version

RSA Data Security is preparing a new version of its popular BSafe toolkit for Java. JSafe lets developers build public/private encryption key and other security technologies into Java applications and applets. It should ship in the second quarter of '97. Users welcomed the extra security layer, if for nothing else, for its ability to let Java applets out of the Java runtime environment.

"The Java sandbox is only one part of overall security, so this will be a major help in adding overall security capabilities, such as digital signatures, to a Java applet," said Jim Franklin, an independent Java consultant. "By having the RSA technology there, the building of secure Java transaction and commerce applications will be a lot easier."

JSafe rests beneath the Java Crypto API. Developers write to the Java Crypto API and specify that the application use the JSafe cryptographic engine. It incorporates RC2, RC4, and RC5 secret key cyphers, MD-5 and SHA-1 message digests, and hash algorithms for creating digital signatures. JSafe also supports digital certificate management and messaging standards such as the PCKS#7 message format and X.509 digital certificate parsing techniques.

RSA intends to launch several apps based on JSafe, including an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Java application and a Java wallet for electronic commerce.

The JSafe toolkit will be sold to ISVs and third-party developers with licensing terms similar to those used for the BSafe toolkit. ISVs will also have the option of buying out all future royalties for approximately 00,000.

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Australian startup develops a universal language: truly "write once, run anywhere"

Australian start-up The Object Factory has developed a technology that it claims will allow programmers to write code in any programming language and then compile it in any other language and run it on any platform. The software development environment is called the Object Resource and Automation Center (ORAC), which consists of a development tool called the Genetic Object Socket Technology (GOST) and a Universal Virtual Machine (UVM). It is similar to the Inter-Language Unification (ILU) project at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.

"The difference between our Universal Virtual Machine and the Java Virtual Machine or the Smalltalk Virtual Machine is that we do not have to compile down to the traditional bytecode," said Object Factory CEO James Ladd. "The UVM compiles to a format called the GOST Messaging Stream, so instead of the instructions being sent to a virtual machine, they are sent directly to the software object concerned."

High-tech consulting firm Information Technology Resource has been evaluating ORAC for use in a telecommunications network management application. "Theoretically, the Object Factory's technology is sound," said John Veitch, ITR consultant. "Ideally for the telecommunications area, we would like something with Java-like and CORBA-like object-oriented functionality, and that is what ORAC can offer us."

Ladd believes the Object Factory's approach is faster and simpler than Java or Smalltalk, more secure, and dynamically upgradable and scalable. Plus, it has the added advantage of allowing developers to take a look at programs in languages they don't understand. "If you don't understand a programming language such as Smalltalk or C++, with GOST you can view it in ... C or Java," Ladd said.

The company hopes to finish development on ORAC, GOST, and the UVM by the end of 1997. Pricing has not yet been decided.

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