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Corel gives Java another try

The Canadian software developer rolls out its much anticipated Java-based technology for building Web-based applications.

Canadian software developer Corel (COSFF) is ready to give Java one more shot.

The company today, at the JavaOne conference, rolled out its much anticipated Java-based technology for building Web-based applications.

Open-J, formerly code-named Alta, allows users with the smallest amount of programming experience to build applications for intranet, extranet, or Internet sites, the company claims.

Today's debut of the new line of products is welcomed by most observers. However, some wonder when the actual release of the product will come, saying summer might be a little ambitious.

"The real question is how close are they to shipping a full set of working applications," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group. "This sounds like a corporate level release. It doesn't look like they're ready to release a workgroup set of applications yet."

Indeed earlier reports on Corel's Java strategy have company executives outlining plans for a Java-based personal information manager and scheduler, as well as a voice mail, email, and word processing package for workgroups. Today's release says nothing about these types of applications.

Enderle said Corel needs to pick up the pace, especially in the wake of Lotus Development's release yesterday of its eSuite Dev Pack, which will begin shipping this week. The pack gives developers business applets and development tools for Web-based applications.

"eSuite's been out for a month now, so this does not look good for Corel. They need to move quickly, or they may be pushed out of this space by IBM," Enderle said, referring to Lotus's parent company.

But Corel executives countered Enderle's remarks, saying they plan to detail and release the Java office applications in the summer.

"We're rolling out the products in two phases," Paul Skillen, Corel's vice president of software development, said. "Right now we're evangelizing the architecture first [to allow for] faster introduction of the applications in the summer."

Corel scrapped plans for an ambitious Java-based business application suite last August after the beta version was criticized for its bugs and poor performance.

Skillen said Corel plans to use Open-J to create jSuite and Self-service applications. jSuite is a lightweight set of office applications, while Self-service applications are collections of JavaBeans and applets that outline certain business tasks.

"We're building the applications out of components for better performance," Skillen said, adding Corel has opted to go that route instead of offering light versions of existing applications as Java applets.

Corel said Open-J works on any computing device or network computer that can run a Java Machine or has a Java-enabled browser. At its heart, Open-J uses XML (extensible markup language) as an application description markup language to "glue" JavaBeans together to create Web-based applications. The product can also be used to create applications with any XML editor, word processor, or text editor.

Meanwhile, as previously reported by CNET's NEWS.COM, Corel has also developed another Java technology jBridge, code-named Remagen, that will allow 32-bit Windows NT-based applications to run on any operating system with a Java Virtual Machine, including Network Computers (NC).

Both Open-J and jBridge are slated to ship in the summer. Pricing details were not released.