SAN MATEO (06/12/2000) - Faced with sluggish adoption of its latest server-side Java technologies and dogged by chronic client-side problems, Sun Microsystems Inc. used last week's JavaOne conference in San Francisco to jump-start the technology's progress across its entire ambitious range.
There were signs that at least some of Java's early client-side potential might be realized through Sun's own tools and endorsements from the likes of Apple, which pledged to include the latest Java 2 Standard Edition (J2SE) in its systems shipping with the forthcoming Mac OS X platform.
Nevertheless, although "Java was touted as the end-all be-all of client-side applications, it certainly hasn't met those expectations," said Daryl Plummer, an analyst at Gartner Group, in Stamford, Conn.
Overall, Java has been hampered by nagging negatives such as performance, reliability, scalability, and ease of deployment, said Bill Pataky, a Java 2 product line manager at Sun.
In an effort to address those concerns, Sun announced a new product called Java Web Start (JWS) for deploying Web-based Java applications.
"We're going through [each negative] one by one and addressing these issues," Pataky said. "[With Web Start] people can now start running Java applications reliably."
JWS, available in October, is a simple interface that allows the user to click and download Java applications that are then cached with a shortcut on the desktop for use online or offline. JWS will also automatically fetch the appropriate JRE (Java Run-time Environment) for each application, so if a Java application is optimized for J2SE 1.3, JWS will automatically upgrade 1.2 for the user.
With Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) coming out later this year, EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans) are gaining popularity as companies are looking to components for building applications and reusing existing code.
IBM announced it will be launching an initiative to further the adoption of component-based development using its WebSphere product called WebSphere Business Components.
"Components can help you narrow that gap between all of the technology and the delivery of business solutions," said Steve Rosenberg, a director of marketing at IBM, in Armonk, N.Y. "We are 100 percent in support of open standards and the EJB specification, and we recognize a growing demand for EJB componentry."
However, IBM has balked at some of the J2EE licensing terms, purportedly those related to branding.
"IBM is more important to the J2EE brand than the J2EE brand is to IBM, and that's frustrating for Sun. It would damage Sun for people to not use IBM's products, and it's a short-term downer for Sun," said Gartner's Plummer. "But if two years from now IBM is not in line with the branding strategy, it will be a long-term downer for IBM."
Meanwhile, several vendors at the show also demonstrated new component-based products, including Merant and Sybase. Flashline.com announced a certification program for components at the show as well.
Sun Microsystems Inc., in Palo Alto, Calif., is at www.sun.com.
SIDEBAR: Jiving with Java
JavaOne percolated a wide range of products.
Informix Cloudscape, Version 3.5 database Lucent savaJe OS for Jscream Internet appliances Inprise/Borland AppCenter 4.0 for managing EJB, EJB servers, and EJB containersCerebellum Software Cerebellum 2.0 Web application integration softwareSoftware AG Bolero XML-compatible Java-based platform for e-business applications and Breeze XML Studio XML-to-Java binding tool.