JavaWorld News Briefs (6/1/97)

Keeping you abreast of the ever-changing Java world

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Microsoft licenses NCware's Java implementation of LDAP

NCware Technologies Corp., which makes directory service development tools, announced Microsoft has licensed JDAP, its Java implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Microsoft plans to include NCware's JDAP in its Active Directory Services Interface (ADSI), which was released in March.

Currently, ADSI offers only a C++ implementation of LDAP but once JDAP is integrated with ADSI, applications written in Java will be able to access the directory services. This move toward Java is part of Microsoft's Application Foundation Classes (AFC) initiative, which will provide Java users access to a variety of Microsoft services.

"Right now not very many applications for Windows are written in Java, but that will change over time," said Greg Gilles, director of business development at NCware, of Bellevue, Washington.

With the ADSI set of APIs, developers can write programs that extract information stored in Microsoft's Active Directory. This hierarchical directory service is slated for release in 1998 with Windows NT 5.0. AD: SI also provides for links to LDAP-based directories.

Directories store information about users linked to the network as well as data about where applications and other resources such as printers are located and how they can be accessed.

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WebCollab lets you share visual data over the Net

IBM is ready to market a Java applet, developed by its alphaWorks division, that allows groups to share visual data such as drawings, slides, and so on during teleconferences. The WebCollab application lets people in different locations make whiteboard presentations while on the phone or Internet phone. Using the Live Pointer, which tracks the motion of a user's mouse in real time, participants may refer to and make changes to presentations. Users also can define their own set of symbol libraries and options to annotate slides.

WebCollab is pure Java; it runs with any Java-enabled Web browser, reducing the need for proprietary hardware or extensive network bandwidth. The application comes with the WebCollab client applet, the WebCollab server, and an HTTP Web server. And you only need one copy of the application to use it. WebCollab is available for free download at alphaWorks.

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Get "early access" to the Java IDL API spec

JavaSoft has made the Java IDL API specification available for public review as an Early Access Release. The Java IDL is a part of Sun's Java Platform for the Enterprise that provides IIOP (Internet Inter-Orb Protocol) support, standards-based interoperability, and connectivity with CORBA.

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Microsoft slips DirectX into its Java VM

Microsoft is preparing to incorporate its DirectX multimedia technology into its Java virtual machine -- a move designed to give the company a stronger position in cross-platform multimedia development. This will allow Java developers to write to the DirectX API using Java. Microsoft is performing this task by its recent purchase of Dimension X, a 2D/3D VRML development company with products (Liquid Reality) that are already focused on the Java programming language.

John Rymer, an industry analyst with the Giga Information Group, said Microsoft's strategy substitutes one programming language for another, with the final result being the same. "They are going to create a Java environment in the image of Windows. Developers have been using C++ to write to the Win API for years, when C++ was the hot language. Here comes another language, and Microsoft is saying, 'use it' -- Java -- to get to all of its existing stuff."

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Easy-to-use Java Studio almost here

Sun is almost ready to release Java Studio, a simpler version of Java. Java Studio can be used on any computer to create animation and graphics for Web sites. The release trumpets Sun's move into the consumer market. "Sun is not just for propeller heads, it's for everybody," said Janpieter Scheerder, president of SunSoft.

The move may have been precipitated by Microsoft's purchase of Dimension X, as a way to capture some of the consumer market. Sun has been moving in that direction. (Witness the "See Pat" Java development print ad campaign and the cable and network television commercials.)

Java Studio lets consumers point and click to build Java applications for their Web sites. Users can grab a test version for free from Sun's site. The company plans to sell Java Studio over the 'Net for about 00, starting in August 1997. And Sun may also sell it in retail stores.

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Integration of e-mail, fax, voicemail, and paging made possible through Java

Tornado Software Development announced the availability of a beta version of the Tornado Electronic Messaging System (TEMS), a low-cost service that allows users to receive all types of messages, whether e-mail, fax, voicemail, or page -- in one format. TEMS also enables users to initiate e-mail messages via the Internet and send them to multiple recipients in any format.

"TEMS centralizes communication for the busy executive, especially mobile users, and gives alternatives to the small office/home office [SOHO] users," said Kevin Torf, president of Tornado. "TEMS is easy to use and offers incredible convenience to anyone using a fax, phone, pager, or e-mail."

TEMS is a device-independent way to send messages via any Java-enabled Web browser. TEMS resides on Tornado's servers, and the Java applets are downloaded to a user's computer on demand. TEMS can be used on any computer platform at any location around the world. Plus, users without computers can phone in messages that then are automatically converted into e-mail. And they can receive pages, faxes, e-mails, and voicemails via the telephone.

TEMS users designate the form in which they wish to receive messages, regardless of whether they are at their business, their residence, or away on travel. For example, if away on business or vacation, users can have their e-mail messages sent to them in fax form. Moreover, they can select or prioritize the form of message being received dependent upon the source. Users can tailor TEMS such that selected e-mails, faxes, pages, and voicemails are received only at designated times or through chosen means. The user creates a flexible program for receiving communications in any time/device combination.

Users will pay a 0 monthly fee for service and a one-time setup fee of 5. An additional 0/month is charged for a personalized phone number (DID). All users receive 10 megabytes of free storage space for messages. The seamless electronic messaging system can be purchased as an outline Internet service (TEMS), or as the component on an intranet known as TEMS Exchange (available in the first quarter of '98). TEMS also will be available on NT Exchange and Solaris Exchange.

In the first quarter of '98, companies will be able to purchase a server for internal communication with local calling rates. The corporate systems will mirror the traditional consumer options.

TEMS is available as a free download from the company's Web site. The final product will be available on July 4.

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Despite Java popularity, developers still using C++

According to industry analysts, C++ is still the tool most developers use to get their work done. IDC estimates that for 1997, 300,000 copies of Java RAD and IDE tools will ship. The company estimates that 1.28 million users will license C++ by the end of the year. And even though C++ sales have flattened (possibly due to the hard sell of Java adherents), IDC also predicts that more than 90 percent of the C++ developers will upgrade to the next version.

In a survey of 750 developers, Market Decisions found that 24 percent said C++ was the tool they used most often for projects developed in the past six months. Five months ago, that number was 26 percent. Six percent reported Java to be the primary development tool, double the number from five months ago.

"Where performance is an issue, C++ is the development language being used," said IDC analyst Evan Quinn. "The latest performance improvements in Java are real. But C++ will still be used for years to come to develop high-performance code."

"Java remains slow because there is no compiler, it's an interpreted language," said Mitch Kramer, Patricia Seybold Group analyst. There is still the belief that for raw performance, you have to manipulate memory using pointers in C++. Java doesn't have that ability. And for system-level code, for high-performance code, you have to mess around in memory."

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New security "crash" bug found and fixed

Researchers at the University of Washington have found a bug in Java that could allow hackers to crash Java programs.

The JDK 1.1.1 bytecode verifier does not check that the number of arguments passed into a method is less than the amount of space allocated to local variables for that method, in its MAXLOCAL classfile attribute. If a method is given more arguments than it has room for in its local variables space, a stack overflow can occur that will often crash the Java virtual machine (JVM).

The fix (in the native C code that implements the class loader) incorporates two additional safety checks. It checks that the number of arguments is smaller than the number of local variables. And it checks that the number of arguments is fewer than 255, to match the JVM specification.

Sun has created a fix for the bug that will ship to Java licensees immediately, and will also ship with the Java Development Kit 1.1.2, due at the end of May.

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Is trouble brewing for Java's native interface?

The native method interface is critical to Java implementation since the interface links platform-neutral Java to the machine-specific modules that deliver native GUI look and feel, provide low-level access to hardware, and maximize the speed of critical algorithms. And Microsoft and Sun are creating tough choices for developers by developing these links to native code in different directions.

From the start, the best way to describe Java's interface to native code has been "undecided." Sun's own Java 1.0 documentation included a warning: "Use these interfaces at your own risk and in full knowledge that they will change in future releases of Java."

Microsoft is building its own Raw Native Interface (RNI) which maximizes runtime speed on Windows and demands that application developers pay close attention to the interaction between native code and Java's automatic memory management process, known as garbage collection. RNI will move Java one step closer to Microsoft's Java strategy -- "write once, run anywhere -- but run best on Windows."

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Different directions for virtual machines

Microsoft has acknowledged it has no plans to support JavaSoft's next Java virtual machine (JVM), the HotSpot. Instead, the company will continue to rewrite the JVM to its own specifications. Microsoft will incorporate this version into Internet Explorer 4.0 in summer '97.

Besides advances to the Raw Native Interface, the Microsoft JVM will include the DirectX multimedia API and an improved just-in-time compiler and features to help the JVM deal with repetitive loop actions.

JavaSoft's HotSpot VM (general release planned for the fourth quarter '97) achieves faster speeds by enabling the VM to look for loops and dynamically compile the bytecode into machine code. The VM also will look for repetitive method calls that can be dynamically integrated into the application and inlined for faster execution. JavaSoft is introducing its own new garbage collector as part of its Java Native Interface, a counterpart to Microsoft's RNI.

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New versions of Asymetrix tools here

Asymetrix offers two new editions of its SuperCede Java development environment: SuperCede Java/ActiveX Edition; and SuperCede Database Edition. Both versions add to the SuperCede Java Edition.

SuperCede Java/ActiveX Edition allows developers to interactively and visually construct Java applications using both Java and ActiveX controls. It comes bundled with translation technology from TV Objects that allows Visual Basic developers to convert existing Visual Basic forms to Java applications with the push of a button.

SuperCede Database Edition is designed for Visual Basic, C++, and Java developers building Java databases applications for intranets. This version incorporates drag-and-drop capabilities, and features two implementations of the Java Database Connectivity (JDBC): Intersolv's DataDirect and Visigenic's VisiChannel for JDBC.

Both versions are based on the JDK 1.0.2, with bundled controls and libraries from many vendors. SuperCede Java/ActiveX costs 99 and SuperCede Database Edition costs 99.

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Multiple smart card development packages from Integrity Arts

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