"Smaller is better" is the unofficial motto of Kada Systems Inc., a young company that last week released a set of Java tools, APIs and its own version of a Java Virtual Machine to build applications for Palm OS handhelds.
The compact Kada Mobile Platform will let customers build database applications and deploy them to handhelds, transforming the handhelds into something more than computerized calendars.
Kada, formerly Emwerks, isn't the only vendor with a midget JVM alternative to Sun Microsystems Inc.'s versions in Java 2 Micro Edition. Hewlett-Packard Co. created its Chai VM, and NewMonics Inc. released for network equipment builders a version of its Perc software, including a VM for complex embedded applications.
The Kada VM comes in two versions, one running in 155K bytes of memory, the other 380K bytes. This is larger than Sun's equivalent, known as KVM. But unlike Sun's, the Kada equivalent software can support the full range of Java APIs, such as Abstract Window Toolkit, network connectivity, I/O and Java Database Connectivity, says Kada founder Shekar Mantha.
Kada Mobile hasn't been checked against the Java compatibility tests but has passed the publicly available Mauve tests. A prototype was announced last June at the JavaOne conference.
Using Kada Mobile, developers at Baton Rouge International (BRI), a Louisiana software consulting firm, are writing a Java program that works with a small Java database on the Palm device, and later synchronizes data through a cradle connection with an Oracle server. Palm users can collect data in the field, process it, change it and later upload it to corporate applications, says Sumit Sinha, one of BRI's consultants. Sinha started with Sun's JVM but switched to the Kada software because it incorporated more of the Java features he needed.
Kada Mobile is available now. The introductory, bare-bones development kit is US$295 and can be downloaded from the Web site. There are two subscription services: Basic edition, for $895 per year, includes the tool kit, plus subsequent releases, enhancements and technical support; Professional edition, for $3,395 per year, adds 100 deployment licenses (which otherwise are priced separately) and other services, such as a dedicated Kada account manager and priority technical support.