IBM Makes Jikes Code Public for Developers

IBM Corp. officials today said they will make public the source code for its Jikes Java reference compiler that they believe offers developers a way to more quickly develop applications that strictly adhere to the Java language standard.

With the decision to make the technology's code public IBM officials said corporate and third-party developers can now move it forward together by collaborating to make future enhancements to it. It was not clear, however, when IBM would make commercially available a product based on the technology.

"It is critical that companies believe in the value of Java use and recommend completely compliant Java technologies," said Francis Charig, the chairman and chief executive of the Tao Group, a software development company in Reading, England. Tao has created its own clean-room engine for running Java, Charig said.

Jikes, developed within IBM's Research labs, is designed from the ground up to be primarily fast and to strictly adhere to the Java language definition. The technology supposedly offers corporate and third-party developers Java byte-code that runs markedly faster than existing compilers.

In a 1997 interview when IBM first made the technology available, Stuart Feldman, then department group manager at IBM's Research Division, in Hawthorne, New York, said Jikes could also serve as a language checker and lightweight browser.

Jikes is a "careful" reference compiler in that it will compile no more and no less than a developer requires to be 100 percent compatible with the Java language standard. This is critical because it can serve as a true indicator for Java compatibility, officials believe.

The technology is intended as stand-alone source code to a byte code compiler compared, for instance, to IBM's VisualAge For Java development environment, which is a packaged set of tools for developers wanting to do native compilation and create heftier Java-compatible applications.

Available since mid-1997, Jikes has been downloaded from IBM's Alphaworks site more than any other Java technology since July, company officials said. IBM released a version of the technology for Linux this past summer.

The product also works with IBM's AIX and OS/2 platforms, as well as Microsoft's Windows 95 and NT and Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system.

Besides getting access to the code, interested developers will also be able to get on a public mailing list for discussions about suggested changes to the technology. Information about how to become a participant is available on IBM's Alphaworks site.

Further information about Jikes can be obtained at www.ibm.com/research. IBM Corp., in Armonk, N.Y., can be reached at www.ibm.com.

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