News and New Product Briefs (7/1/97)

New Java shareware repository

Can there ever be too many Java shareware sites? The JavaShareware Group has announced a new site for Java applications, applets, JavaBeans, scripts, development tools, and servlets. Along with this giant basket of Java goodies, developers will get a place to post their own creations and questions. The JavaShareware Group hopes this site will help address one of the major criticisms about Java -- not enough apps.

Java-interactive crossword

Six down: What's a four-letter word, beginning with "J", that makes online, interactive crossword puzzles possible? Answer: Java.

Universal Crossword is a new Java-based interactive crossword puzzle, available to online newspapers through Universal Press Syndicate, that gives millions of letter addicts the chance to figure out the clues without having to download software.

SNiFF+ gets a Java RAD toolset

TakeFive Software's newest release of its cross-platform development environment, SNiFF+ 2.3.1, incorporates SNiFF+J, a set of tools optimized to make rapid Java app development easier. SNiFF+J includes an integrated graphical debugger for testing throughout the edit/debug cycle.

With the SNiFF+J browser, developers can reuse Java components and libraries, and examine their projects at any level of detail. It allows development on the Windows 95, NT, or Unix platforms, and supports browsers for and references to C, C++, Java, CORBA IDL, and Fortran, as well as provides an Open Parser API so you can plug in support for other languages.

"SNiFF+ 2.3.1 takes software developers a major step forward in accelerating their software development cycles," said Andreas Pabinger, TakeFive's vice president of sales and marketing. "SNiFF+'s advanced preprocessing of C and C++ code and its enhanced memory management enable developers to create complex applications far more quickly and efficiently."

SNiFF+ comes in at ,990 for a floating license, ,995 for a Windows node-locked license, and 95 for a Java parser. If you're a SNiFF+ client with a maintenance contract, version 2.3.1 is available free.

So where're the JavaStations?

Don't look for the JavaStation this summer. Problems will keep the boxes unavailable until the autumn, and the JavaStation OS isn't expected until October '97 at the earliest. Why? Sun is still adding features, and the operating system and animation software suffer from performance problems.

Unfortunately for Sun, the delay happens just as corporations seem to be grasping the importance of Java-based network computing. "We are starting to see the Java application environment running real, distributed applications," said Ryan Martens, marketing VP at Avitek, a Java developer. "This paves the way for network computers."

Nomura investment bank plans to install JavaStations

Nomura International has decided to replace 1,100 of its PCs with Sun's JavaStations over the next two years, as well as to start using Solaris servers. Nomura had planned to add Java-based graphical interfaces to its desktops, so the proposed JavaStations seemed to fit the bill. The servers will support computer-intensive applications, database engines, file-distribution tasks, and group development work.

Geoff Doubleday, managing director of Nomura's Information Systems Division, said, "JavaStations are cheaper to operate than PCs. Also, by writing our applications in Java, we get huge portability benefits because the apps will run on any platform we choose."

Sun claims Java runs twice as fast on SPARC than on Pentium

Sun, battling an earlier claim by Intel that Java runs faster on Pentiums, has released benchmark results that shows Java running twice as fast on the UltraSPARC than on Pentiums. (See the previous JavaWorld news brief, "Intel claims: Java runs best on Intel.")

Using the same tests as Intel (Pendragon Software's CaffeineMark 2.5 benchmark), Sun claims that the SPARC Solaris platform received scores that were more than double the known scores for any WinTel architecture. CaffeineMark scores for Sun's 200MHz UltraSPARC-II running Solaris 2.6 (beta) or 2.5.1 were 13,920; for a PentiumPro 233/256k running NT 4.0 and IE 3.02 was 5,661.

The CaffeineMark is a set of small Java programs that measures the speed of execution and 2-D graphics.

Anant Agrawal, Sun vice president and general manager of the Performance Products Group, said, "Sun has led the way on Java since its creation and, as these benchmark scores indicate, SPARC and Solaris remain at the forefront of Java performance. We optimized SPARC Solaris for Java performance by combining our proven expertise in delivering high-performance silicon with our unparalleled knowledge of Java."

If you're running Solaris 2.5.1, you can reproduce these results by grabbing a download at Sun's site.

Virtuflex Web dev tool adds Java support

Virtuflex Software's version 2.0 of its Web application development tool debuts with new support for Windows 95 and NT, and a new Java Database Connectivity component. The new JDBC Server component is a multi-threaded Java application that should provide high-performance database connectivity to Unix and Windows platforms, which users can access via a browser.

This version also includes Web-based administration screens, debugging utilities, and functions to help process Web forms. Debugging screens provide several levels of HTML-formatted information, including Syntax, SQL query errors, and processing times. Web-based administration screens allow administrators to visually manage configuration parameters from both local and remote Web browsers.

The standalone version for Unix costs ,495, and the 32-bit Windows version is 95.

Netscape unveils Beans strategy

Netscape started its developers conference on June 11 by outlining the changes to its products, plans, and partnerships that support using JavaBeans as an object-oriented development environment. Senior VP Eric Hahn and other Netscape officials said that the company's goal is to provide corporate developers with an object component model that is cross-platform and that uses JavaBean objects as the building blocks.

Netscape, IBM, Oracle, and Sun have submitted a position paper to the Object Management Group on a standard method for extending CORBA/IIOP to support JavaBeans. And Rick Schell, client technologies VP, said that Netscape is exposing its directory, messaging, and database connectivity services in SuiteSpot 3.0 as Beans that developers can grab to build custom applications. In the next generation of client/server products expected in early 1998 (code-named "Apollo" and "Mercury"), Schell said all services, such as encryption services, will be exposed as Beans.

To its 30 enterprise applications, Oracle is providing Java-based client access, said Beatriz Infante, Oracle senior VP. The applications include human resources and manufacturing software. IBM is providing Bean-based access to its MQ Series, CICS, and Encina products, and is also delivering a component broker connector and toolkit by December 1997. The connector/toolkit is to be used for generating Beans that access multiple back-end services, said Patricia Dock, IBM's director of object technology middleware.

Netscape's Hahn said, "We're bringing the power of object-oriented development to the mainstream. Historically, it was available only to the diehard programmer."

Netscape plans to use its Web site to list all Beans available from Netscape and third parties. The current count is 90. The company also plans to post a debugger component for Visual JavaScript, a debugger that will work with Beans later. And in the fourth quarter of '97, Netscape intends to ship full JDK 1.1 Bean event support.

VMs and Java browsers for Amiga

Following are links to sites where you can find updates on finding Java virtual machines and browsers for the Amiga platform.

Intel's Andy Grove stands behind Java

Intel's CEO Andy Grove is standing behind the company's Java development, he announced in his keynote address at the recent Netscape developers conference in San Jose. An anonymous Intel executive stressed, though, that Intel will not do a Java chip. "We're offering support through tools. People just want their applications to run faster -- they don't care what language they're written in."

At the conference Intel also showed Vtune 2.5, its performance tuning tool, which includes support for Java. Vtune identifies sections of code that take up CPU time or have potential performance problems running on Intel chips. Then developers can optimize their applications for Intel chips. Vtune also helps developers optimize for MMX processors (the multimedia chip) and other languages.

Netscape promises pure Java Communicator suite

CTO Marc Andreessen promised Netscape will deliver a "100 percent pure" Java version of its Communicator software by the end of 1998 in his keynote at the recent Netscape Developers Conference. "Next year, we are going to do a 100 percent pure version of Communicator built on JavaBeans," he said.

By developing a pure Java Internet client, Netscape would be operating within the paradigm that it has tried to foist upon other software developers -- build cross-platform Java programs, not apps that only run on Windows platforms. Andreessen said the early advantage of building crossware applications is that companies can develop applications more quickly than their competitors. And early adoption would bring more and more companies along at an ever-faster pace. "All it really takes is one company to start harnessing technology, and the rest of the industry has to race to catch up because the bar has been raised."

Netscape expects to deliver the Java Communicator after the next major version of Communicator, code-named Mercury, due in early 1998.

Netscape ONE crossware app white paper now available

This white paper shows developers how they can build and deploy this service-based application today. Crossware describes on-demand applications that run across networks and operating systems and can easily be extended to external partners and customers.

Java makes feudal Japan child's play

The Big Fun game company has created "Ronin," a new Java-based multiplayer strategy game based on feudal Japan. And it's available for free.

In Ronin, the gamer is the leader of an army. First you handpick troops from a selection of characters, then you build your army and capital, then expand your empire by taking castles from your opponents -- and that can be as many as 100 players.

Ronin contains a nifty feature not found in other Java games. You must choose and position your army well, because you can be attacked while you are offline. An AI-like function guards your property while you are absent, depending on your strategic positioning of troops. You may also gang forces to make larger armies, instead of just destroying others.

About using only Java to develop a game, Big Fun president Dov Jacobson said, "With Java, the PC is just a window to the game on our server and there's this clean break between either playing a game, or just surfing on the Web. We wanted something that really works well on the Internet. And we wanted a game that you could keep coming back to because it's always growing and it's always different. We can incrementally update the Java programs easily, allowing new characters with new powers, even new territories to conquer when Japan becomes too confining. Games like this only really work over the Internet."

Microsoft buys Cooper & Peters for its Java

Microsoft has acquired Cooper & Peters, a developer of object-oriented user interface frameworks for Java and Smalltalk. Microsoft plans to incorporate the C&P tools into its Application Foundation Classes (AFC) Java class libraries. The Smalltalk tools include widgets, a set of components, a UI framework, and WindowBuilder, a Smalltalk interface builder.

C&P's EyeOpener Java component development suite includes the Windows 95 controls and such applications as a word processor, spreadsheet, and chart-creation package. The applications use C&P's Beans-compatible Embedded Document Framework to give an OLE-like embedding ability.

Oracle 8 won't support Java

Oracle, one company that has been championing Java and the network computer, will not be including Java support in the next incarnation of its database. Larry Ellison discusses why Oracle 8 won't have Java: "It makes no sense for us to ship a next-generation application development product unless our own developers are engaged in using the product. We're not there yet."

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